There's a new supermarket in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, and it only sells damaged or nearly expired food. According to NPR, the food the market sells is perfectly safe for consumption, but has been deemed, for one reason or another, unfit for sale. Bruised fruit, damaged cereal cartons and other products nearing their expiration dates are what shoppers will find at WeFood, and for a significant markdown. The idea behind the store is to help reduce the country's food waste by over half a million tons a year. But this isn't a food bank – it's a store designed for everyone.
Here are three things we can learn from this new responsible store:
1. Looks aren't everything
One huge reason for food waste in Denmark, and throughout the world, is that people are tossing out produce that doesn't look perfect. American supermarkets face the same problem. If a piece of fruit looks unappealing, it's tossed out at the end of the day, even though it might still be edible. If a cardboard box gets a little crumpled or torn, that goes out too, although there may be nothing wrong with its contents. In a short amount of time, that all adds up to a lot of wasted food. The Washington Post reported that Americans waste nearly $165 billion worth of food each year. If more people were willing look beyond the surface of their food, they could save a lot of money.
— Nonprofit Quarterly (@npquarterly) February 29, 2016
2. People are what's most important
The food waste supermarket aims to put the power back in the hands of the shoppers. Not only is it meant to mitigate the stigma of poverty, it will provide many people the opportunity to eat healthy food without having to spend a lot of money. At the end of the day, it's the people that are the most important factor in this issue. By reducing food waste, more people get to eat well and learn a great economic lesson at the same time. American supermarkets can learn to focus more on their customers as well as their employees. Perhaps local grocery stores can start healthy eating programs for their employees or provide them with slip-resistant shoes to avoid injuries. Whatever they do, it's important to remember it isn't all about the bottom line, it's about the people.
3. You can teach an old dog new tricks
There's always room for innovation. Grocery stores and supermarkets have been around for such a long time, it might seem like there's no room for improvement. But this new type of store is a prime example to us all that there is always a new opportunity around the corner. For store managers and executives, this can be a learning opportunity – there are more ways to make people's lives better and maybe even accelerate the business at the same time. Since its opening, Denmark's WeFood has been packed with customers every day, and a member of the Danish royal family even stopped by – now that's definitely good for business.