Walk into WeFood, a new supermarket in Copenhagen, and you’ll find prices up to 50% lower than any other grocery store in the city. The only catch? The food is past its official expiry date or has damaged packaging that would’ve caused it to be thrown away at a regular store.
WeFood, which threw open its doors on Feb. 22, is Denmark’s first-ever surplus food supermarket, aiming to cut down on the massive amounts of food wasted every year—700,000 metric tons in Denmark, and 1.3 billion metric tons around the world.
The supermarket hopes to draw both environmentally conscious shoppers and low-income individuals with limited budgets, according to Folkekirkens Nodhjaelp, the local non-profit that set up the project over the past year. Already praising the effort—which took a fair amount of legislative wrangling to set up—is Danish food minister Eva Kjer Hansen, who called the amount of food wasted each year “ridiculous.”
Denmark as a whole has been doing a good job of cleaning up its act. The country throws away 25% less food than it did five years ago and many of its supermarkets sell food that is near its expiration date at reduced prices. Elsewhere in Europe, France has banned supermarkets from throwing away unsold food and is asking restaurants to provide take-out containers.
None of this means the global fight to reduce food waste is anything close to over. In the US, people are tossing out 50% more food these days than they did in 1990, for instance. Looking to inspirational projects like WeFood might help other countries get their priorities in order.