A Finnish supermarket chain is fighting food waste by offering steep discounts during a “happy hour.” Every night at 9, food with a midnight expiration date is discounted 60 percent off already reduced prices. Shoppers are flocking to S-market’s 900 stores to avail themselves of bargains on meat and other food that has reached its sell-by date.
S-market’s initiative is part of a much larger movement to decrease food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly one-third of food made for humans winds up lost or wasted. This unused food weighs in at 1.3 billion tons annually, with a value of almost $680 billion.
Not only is this a terrible waste, given that 10 percent of the world’s population is undernourished, but all that food rotting in landfills worsens climate change. As food decomposes, it releases methane. This gas is about 25 times as dangerous to the environment as carbon dioxide. Wasted food also requires a ridiculous amount of unnecessary transportation. Food is transported from where it is grown to stores all over the world. Then, after its expiration date, unsold food gets a final ride to the landfill. That’s a huge waste of water and fossil fuels.
But S-market wants to help reduce food waste while also minimizing its own losses from thrown-out, expired foods. The chain will sell hundreds of items that are already reduced in price by 30 percent for an additional 60 percent off after 9 p.m. until closing time at 10 p.m., and many customers are enjoying the happy hour.
“I’ve gotten quite hooked on this,” shopper Kasimir Karkkainen told the New York Times. Karkkainen scored pork mini-ribs and two pounds of pork tenderloin for US$4.63.
While this is happening in Finland, U.S. grocers could benefit from adopting a similar initiative as Americans can be especially wasteful. “Food waste might be a uniquely American challenge because many people in this country equate quantity with a bargain,” said Meredith Niles, an assistant professor in food systems and policy at the University of Vermont. “Look at the number of restaurants that advertise their supersized portions.”
Via New York Times
Image via Nina Friends / S-Market