Denmark is a nation known far and wide for doing things a little differently. Now, a unique supermarket has opened up in Copenhagen, and its shelves are stocked with expired foods sold at a deep discount. WeFood, which opened this week, aims to chip away at the nation’s food waste by creating a market where expired foods and those with damaged packaging can be sold to willing shoppers, rather than thrown in the trash. WeFood could become a model for other countries by demonstrating a creative solution to the enormous problem of food waste.
While much of the rest of the so-called civilized world is chucking expired goods in the trash – and maybe sometimes giving it to charity – Denmark has embraced this creative means of reducing the nation’s food waste. Annually, the country throws away some 700,000 metric tons of food. On a global scale, over 1.3 billion metric tons of food is lost or discarded each year, which is equivalent to one-third of all food produced. From an environmental perspective, that figure is atrocious.
Although other countries, including the United States, have “surplus” grocery outlets that carry damaged-box goods, or those with an older packaging design, or which have been discontinued for any number of other reasons, expired goods are very rarely seen – even though the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t bar retailers from selling food products that are past their expiration date (nor does it require manufacturers to add an expiration date, for what it’s worth).
At WeFood, prices throughout the store are up to 50 percent off regular retail, making it a real win for shoppers who get to pocket their savings while feeling good about their contribution to conserving food. The store isn’t just for thrifty shoppers, though. “WeFood is the first supermarket of its kind in Denmark… not just aimed at low-income shoppers but anyone who is concerned about the amount of food waste produced in this country,” said Per Pjerre from the NGO, DanChurch Aid, which is behind the market. “Many people see this as a positive and politically correct way to approach the issue.”
Images via WeFood