The Good Food Tackles Food Waste in Grocery Stores

Feb 7, 2017

Zero Waste becoming a trend Enlarge image Zero Waste becoming a trend (© picture alliance / dpa) Often at the forefront of sustainability, Germany has once again broken new ground by opening its first supermarket, The Good Food, to sell only waste food. Though the term ‘waste food’ might conjure up images of rotting fruit or curdled milk, the owners of the store are hoping to transform that perception in order to take steps closer to a zero-waste society.

The State of Food Waste

By this point, we have all heard stories of the amount of food thrown out at restaurants that have unpredictable demand or whose portions are too large for one sitting. However, less commonly highlighted is the waste produced by grocery stores—the exact place most people shop at in order to save money from eating out and therefore reduce food waste. Despite financial motivation from both the shopper and grocery store to reduce food waste, every year one third of food ends up in the trash around the world. If not thrown away, much of it could be well used towards addressing global poverty if it were to be redistributed.

Joining a Phenomenon

The Good Food is not the only effort in Germany to work on both the production and consumption side of food. The initiative “Too Good To Throw Away,” a product of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, seeks to cut food waste in half by 2030 by offering Beste-Reste Boxen. Beste-Reste-Boxen are environmentally sustainable boxes provided to customers in 200 restaurants nationwide for restaurant goers to bring home the food they cannot finish. Food waste Enlarge image According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one third of all food goes to waste in Germany each year. (© picture alliance / dpa)

In a separate initiative, three students at the Bauhaus University in Weimar started Fair-Teiler, which purchases unmarketable produce from the farmers and resells it at a discounted price. This prevents farmers from destroying their less attractive produce, and works at preventing the overproduction of produce in the first place.

All of these initiatives are inspired by or created in conjunction with a national effort from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture to cut food waste in Germany in half by 2030.

Going Against the Grain

Starting a waste-based grocery store starts with changing a national mindset about the food that grocery stores do not sell or that they throw out. Far from inedible, the produce and other products tend to be abnormally shaped, discolored, or too big or small. Taste, however, isn’t affected by aesthetics. Additionally, many expiration dates are conservative suggestions from manufacturers or producers. This message goes against that of advertisers who often promote a seemingly perfect product and set unrealistic expectations for shoppers.

The organic products sold in ‘The Good Food’ are priced by the consumers. The products would otherwise be destroyed by grocery stores or farmers. Alongside the perishable goods are overstock from manufacturers of non-perishable products.

The store hopes to inspire locals and politicians alike to pay attention to the issue of food waste and to hold farmers and grocery stores accountable for unsold products. They also long to show one of the largest industries in the world that sustainability and profitability can go hand-in-hand in any business.


Cracking Down on Food Waste

Beste Reste Box

Federal Minister Christian Schmidt has stated that his goal for Germany is to cut food waste in half by 2030. The first step in that process has been the sale of “Beste-Reste Boxen”, which are environmentally sustainable boxes provided to customers in 200 restaurants nationwide for restaurant go-ers to bring home the food they cannot finish.