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Businesses combating food waste

Danish food companies work hard to reduce food waste and donate surplus food to people in need. In December, more than 35 tonnes of food were collected by the Food Bank project.
Every year, 700,000 tonnes of food that could have been eaten ends up in the dustbin. That is why a number of Danish businesses are working hard to reduce food waste and donating surplus food to charity.

Publiceret: 04.01.2017
Af Niels Brandt Petersen mail

Danish gingerbread biscuits with broken packaging, incorrectly labelled milk and unsold vegetables.

These are just some of the items of food donated annually to organisations helping people in need at shelters and drop-in centres.

The Food Bank, a non-profit organisation, and other charities organise the collection and distribution to help fight food waste in Denmark.

The Food Bank collects some of the more than 700,000 tonnes of food that, according to the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, could have been eaten every year, but ends up in the dustbin.

Over the Christmas period, the Food Bank, which is run by volunteers, distributed 26 tonnes of food to people in need in Copenhagen and 19 tonnes in Aarhus.

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Benefiting businesses and users

Much of the food comes from Danish businesses which sometimes end up having a surplus of food, food that usually ends up in the dustbin.

Arla Foods is one of the companies working with the Food Bank. In 2016, the Danish dairy giant donated almost 30 tonnes of food to the food project.

“We are very pleased about being able to work with the Food Bank. Of course, we would rather not have to work with them because that would mean that we did not produce a surplus. But in a company as big as ours, we will always have situations where we will be left with goods that we cannot sell,” says Lars Fogh Sørensen, customer service manager at Arla Foods.

The surplus food donated to the Food Bank usually includes products with a short shelf life, such as milk and yoghurt, or food with labels printed in Russian that have not been sold.

“In these situations, the Food Bank is fantastic. The food is not just discarded, but can be used for the needy,” says Lars Fogh Sørensen.

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Cutting overproduction

According to Leif Nielsen, industry director of DI Fødevarer, the distribution of food benefits the environment, the recipients and the business community. 

“Discarding perfectly good food is a waste of resources which impacts on the environment and costs businesses money,” says Leif Nielsen and continues:

“Our partnership with the Food Bank also means that businesses actually reduce food waste because they are working in an organised way to eliminate that waste,” he says.

At Arla Foods, the partnership has meant that the volume of surplus food has fallen significantly, explains Lars Fogh Sørensen.

“Our donation work has also meant that we are better able to identify the volume of surplus production and food waste and see where we need to adjust our output in order to match demand more precisely. In this way we have reduced our surplus production significantly,” he says.

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Employee pride

“As well as an emptier dustbin, focusing on food waste means that employees become happier about going to work,” explains Lars Fogh Sørensen.

“I can feel that our employees notice our work with the Food Bank and other projects to which we donate food. It warms the hearts of our employees and they feel proud. I think that is something that is valuable and makes real sense,” he says.

Leif Nielsen, DI Fødevarer, sees the same tendency elsewhere in the food industry.

“We see that employee satisfaction increases in companies who take responsibility and make this kind of effort. Employees are proud of working for a company that takes social responsibility,” he says.

I can feel that our employees notice our work with the Food Bank and other projects to which we donate food. It warms the hearts of our employees and they feel proud.
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PUBLISHED: 1/4/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 1/4/2017