The Danes love their unloved food.
It has been less than a year since Denmark opened its first ‘unloved food’ supermarket, selling only items that are expired, mislabeled, damaged, or otherwise destined for the trash bin. Wefood, as the store is called, has enjoyed such tremendous success and popularity in Copenhagen that it has now established a second location, this time in a trendy neighborhood called Nørrebro, opening its doors in early November.
Wefood is different from other expired-food vendors because it is not geared toward the lower-income residents. Rather, its customers tend to be politically-minded individuals who believe strongly in the importance of not allowing perfectly good food to go to waste.
Denmark’s food laws make this possible. As long as expired food is clearly labeled and shows no sign of health risk, it’s legal to sell.
While prices are roughly half of what one would pay in a regular store, The Guardian points out that it would be challenging to do an ordinary pantry-stocking shop here because you never really know what you’re going to get. Everything depends on donations, which vary on a daily basis.
“One weekday afternoon, customers were greeted by a mountain of Disney and Star Wars-branded popcorn, while the fresh fruit section had been reduced to a handful of rotting apples.”
There are so many reasons to fight food waste. Not only could it improve the lives and wellbeing of 800 million people, who go to bed hungry every night, but it would save money. WeFood’s website cites a UN estimate that food waste costs the world upwards of 1 trillion dollars annually. Then there’s the spectre of climate change and the fact that one-third of the world’s food goes to waste at an environmental cost of 3.3 billions tons of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year.
Yes, it’s definitely time for a fresh approach, and Wefood has a brilliant model that would be smart to replicate in North America.