On the 22nd of February, Denmark unveiled the country’s first food waste supermarket, Wefood, a project funded by the Danish Dutch Aid. The supermarket stocks-up on products other supermarkets can’t longer sell due to overdue “best eat before” dates, incorrect labels or damaged packaging.
Queues of customers have been lining up ever since. The food is still edible and is in accordance with the Danish food legislation, which is more than enough for around 200 people who enter the ugly food supermarket on a daily basis and enjoy a large variety of produces with a discount that ranges between 30% and 50%.
According to the project manager of Wefood Bassel Hmeidan, so far, Wefood has done “so well.” “So far it’s [going according to] plan, we received a great welcome from our suppliers and customers. We are still surprised by the donations we receive,” the project manager of Wefood Hmeidan says.
So, how well is “so well?” Hmeidan states that within the first three months of operation, around 25 tons of food were saved from being wasted. He expects the annual volume of saved food to be 100 tons. “Our partners are from different places in the supply chain. We receive donations from producers, transport and freight, wholesalers, retailers and import companies,” Hmeidan says.
In Wefood, you can find products you would typically find in any other supermarket. Wefood, however, has one catch. As the supermarket is mainly based on donations, the type of food available changes on a daily basis.
The supermarket received a vast variety of products – some more than others, Hmeidan explains. Typical groceries available include frozen produce, green coffee and 3 kilogram (6.6 lbs) buckets of organic white chocolate. The spirit of volunteerism extends to the staff as well, including those who pick up the produce for the suppliers to those manning the cashiers.
“They are all volunteers,” Hmeidan adds, explaining that most of the volunteers are either students or seniors. “We have different teams, the logistic team is working from 11 [pm] until 3[pm], and the store team is working from 1 [pm]-7 [pm]. No one is getting paid, everyone is working voluntarily,” he says.
The amount of food bought by costumers ranges, but all the money the supermarket receives from the sale of “ugly food” goes to the Folkekirkens Nødhjælp/the Danish Church Aid, which then uses the money to “assist the world’s poorest to lead a life in dignity.”
After the success of the first supermarket, the Danish Dutch Aid is aiming to open two more branches. “We are hoping to open stores all over Denmark, but right now we are working on opening one more in Copenhagen and one in Aarhus,” Hmeidan says.
Denmark wastes around 700,000 tons of food annually, but recently, the country joined the European Union movement to reduce wasted food. Hmeidan points out that “the biggest amount of food waste is wasted in our own kitchens.”
Other countries that have started taking action to reduce food waste include France and the United Kingdom.