Food waste

We are committed to halving our food waste by 2030. Our primary means of preventing food waste include selection management as well as forecasting and material requirements planning. Food waste is prevented in many ways in K-food stores. The popularity of reduced price products continues to grow, and a variety of products made with potential waste food can now be found on store shelves. Biogas from inedible waste food is used in manufacturing new Pirkka products.

We are committed to halving our food waste by 2030 from the 2019 baseline. Our intermediate target is to achieve a 25% reduction in food waste by the end of 2025.

By the end of 2023, the relative food waste generated at K-food stores had decreased by 20% and at Kespro’s cash-and-carry outlets by 29% from the 2019 baseline. In other words, the intermediate target was achieved two years ahead of schedule at Kespro’s cash-and-carry outlets.

Our primary means of preventing food waste include selection management at K-food stores and Kespro’s cash-and-carry outlets, as well as forecasting and material requirements planning. In practice, this means having the right amount of products that customers want in the right place at the right time. The most important decisions in terms of waste prevention are made at the selection management stage.

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As a product’s ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date approaches, K-food stores can sell the product at a discount. Such products are marked with a red discount label. Based on the number of products, the best-selling red label products are bread, ready meals, meat and meat products as well as puddings, yoghurts and other dairy products. In 2023, the sales of red label products at K-food stores increased by 12% on the previous year.

To reduce waste, stores have also developed their own innovative food waste products from brown bananas, for example.

K-food stores donate edible food products they can no longer sell to local charities, which then distribute the products as food aid to those in need.

Our consistent measures have been particularly successful in reducing the amount of food ending up as waste at stores. In 2023, the amount of inedible food waste from K-food stores that ended up as waste decreased by 22% from the previous year.

At times, waste is generated in the warehousing operations of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetable products may be damaged on their way to the warehouse, and some of them fail to meet the required standards because of their appearance. These kinds of edible yet non-sellable fruit and vegetable products are excellent ingredients for soups, for example.

In 2023, the vegan Hyvis sweet pepper and lentil soup was launched alongside the Hyvis tomato and cheese soup. The ingredients of the Hyvis sweet pepper and lentil soup include waste sweet peppers from Kesko’s central warehouse. In November 2023, the soup was selected as the winner of the Food and Beverage category in the Most Sustainable Product in Finland competition.

In 2023, more than 17,000 kg of waste fruit and vegetables was utilised in our own circular economy products.

Some of the key measures to reduce food waste are data-driven sales prediction and discount shelves for products being removed from the selection or nearing their expiry date. Systematic monitoring of waste data, monthly highlighting of successes and active communication related to waste have also been identified as effective ways to minimise waste.

In 2023, the food waste percentage – or the share of average purchase price sales that ends up as food waste – was 1.0% at Kespro’s 13 cash-and-carry outlets. The ambitious target per outlet is 0.8%, and, for example, the Vaasa outlet achieved a waste percentage of 0.7%. In Vaasa, the year-on-year improvement was impressive: 0.6 percentage points. Around 40% of all the food waste recorded by the cash-and-carry outlets is donated to food aid, which means the proportion of food waste that actually ends up being disposed of is only around 0.6%.

In cooperation with Gasum, we use inedible food waste to produce biogas, which is used as energy in the production of new Pirkka products such as ice creams and Karelian pasties. The operating model involves two manufacturers of Pirkka products, 752 K-food stores, Kespro’s cash-and-carry outlets and the Kesko Logistics central warehouse.

In 2023, a total of 5,176 tonnes of organic waste was used to produce 3,860 MWh of biogas. This saved emissions by 769 tCO2 compared with natural gas and by 964 tCO2 compared with light fuel oil (emissions factors: Statistics Finland, Fuel Classification 2023). The amount of bio-waste recycled decreased by 14% from the previous year, thanks to a reduction in food waste. 

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