Many K-food stores have dedicated “Last chance” shelves for food that is approaching its sell-by date. These shelves have proven effective in preventing food going to waste.
“Last chance shelves have cut the amount of food waste down to half at our store. They make it easy for customers to find all products that are about to expire in one place. Store staff has also learned to better reduce prices on expiring products at the right time,” explains Erkki Zaiedman, the K-retailer of K-Supermarket Lasihytti in Espoo.
K-food stores are also coming up with ways to utilise waste food in new products: fruit, vegetables and bread are used to make jam, juices, smoothies and even beer.
“We created a dish out of leftover sushi rice that quickly become one of the store’s top 50 best sellers,” says Zaiedman.
More than 90% of K-food retailers donate food that is close to its sell-by date to local charities, which then distribute the food to those in need. Meanwhile, inedible food waste from K-food stores is turned into biogas by the energy company Gasum, and used to power the production of new Pirkka products.
Record reduction in food waste in 2020
Measured in kilos, most of the food waste in 2020 consisted of bread, vegetables, fruit, berries, meat and dairy products. These were also the product groups in which food waste decreased the most.
K Group’s objective is to reduce identified food waste by at least 13% from the 2016 level by the end of 2021. In relation to kilos sold, by 2020 the amount of food waste had diminished by some 11% from 2016. The 9% decrease seen last year was a record figure.
“The most important tool for reducing food waste is category management. Other tools include efficient transport and store logistics, a self-control system, and staff training. The optimisation and continuous development of packaging features also plays a key role in reducing wastage. We are constantly seeking and innovating solutions. For example, we make our own Hyvis juice out of discarded fruit, vegetables and berries from K Group’s central warehouse – so far, this has enabled us to save over 20,000 kilos of food that could not have been sold at the stores,” says Timo Jäske, Vice President of Sustainability for K Group’s grocery trade.
Reducing food waste part of K Group’s climate efforts
Reducing food waste is linked to K Group’s climate objective of reaching carbon neutrality by 2025 and zero emissions by 2030. K Group is launching a food waste roadmap project together with some partners.
“Inedible food waste has an impact on the calculation of K Group’s carbon footprint: to meet our objective of becoming carbon neutral, we must take significant actions to reduce food waste. However, everyone has a responsibility to cut food waste, which is why we want to help households to do their part as well,” says Jäske.
Consumers interested in buying products close to expiry at discount prices
K Group’s Food Trends 2021 study showed that thoughtful consumption is one of the biggest factors impacting everyday purchase decisions. Consumers can take measures to reduce food waste, and according to the study, they are also willing to do so.
A whopping 92% of thoughtful consumers said that they strive to reduce food waste, while 51% of trendsetters said that they prefer to buy products close to their sell-by date, sold at reduced prices. Indeed, these products were at the top of the list of 2021 food trends. In 2020, the most popular products in this category included bread, convenience food, meat, yogurt, pudding, dairy and service counter items.