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Probe looks at grocery food waste in Sweden

TT/The Local · 27 Jul 2010, 08:32

Published: 27 Jul 2010 08:32 GMT+02:00

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The survey will also look at the causes of food waste in in shops and wholesalers in the Nordic countries, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported on Tuesday. The report should be ready by the end of the year.

Students at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who were recently commissioned by the Consumer Association of Stockholm examined three stores in one week. They then provided an estimate showing that Coop Forum and Coop Konsum alone threw out about 1,200 tonnes of meat every year.

In 1995, Coop Sweden estimated that its food waste was 11,000 tonnes per year, a figure that is expected to have risen since the stores handle now handle more fresh produce more.

Story continues below…

Consumer demands for well stocked shelves and the unwillingness of merchants to sell food close to their best-before date on sale are said to be some of the causes behind food waste in stores.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:59 July 27, 2010 by jack sprat
Could it be because it's already sub-standard or half rotten when its first put on display?

The quality of so called fresh produce in Sweden's supermarkets is possibly the worst in Europe.

Not just my opinion,..there have been numerous local threads and posts expressing similar views.
09:17 July 27, 2010 by StockholmSam
I have to agree with Jack Sprat. Horrible quality and overpriced when it is on the shelves. No wonder much of it goes unpurchased.
09:25 July 27, 2010 by Stüpid
Most important thing is forgotten here.

The bloody warm weather is also one reason. Since 3 weeks ago the weather became horrible that I used to threw away the food. Even the items in the fridge got spoiled. But, now the weather became cool again and everything changed.

Every time in summer this happens. There are several other reasons why food spoils. But, weather is most important compared to other issues.
09:42 July 27, 2010 by SouthAfrican_in_Sweden
I wonder what would what the solution would be, or is this inevitable?
10:17 July 27, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Stüpid

The weather is nothign to do with it.

It sounds like you need a new fridge and for your cool storage to be better sited.
10:22 July 27, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
Stupid...it is NOT the weather. We get the same old crap on the shelves that have seen better days 365 days a year.
10:44 July 27, 2010 by Stüpid
Okej. Thanks. I didn't knew it before.
10:50 July 27, 2010 by BrittInSweden
As others have said, it probably gets thrown away so much because of the sub standard quality of fruit and veg that passes for fresh in Swedish supermarkets.
10:51 July 27, 2010 by JulieLou40
Yep, i agree with that. Went shopping to Willys yesterday, and I refused to purchase any of their fruit and veg. It was manky!
11:03 July 27, 2010 by old git
Any food waste is "disgraceful" but inevitable unless there is a famine, and how much is thrown away in other countries, on a per capita basis? Is Sweden worse than anywhere else?

I'm not looking for excuses and agree that warm climate soft fruits like peaches , nectarines, apricots etc are generally terrible quality here, but they come a long way compared to where they were grown, have a short shelf life, and maybe the logistics is not so easy?
11:31 July 27, 2010 by hjoian
dont forget also that it is WE as consumers who are demanding so called fresh produce and well stocked shelfs. I already agree that Swedish supermarkets and the so called fresh meat and fruit are bad by European standards. There is a system in place in some countries where all the "sell by" produce that is expired is given to charities to help feed the homeless and less well off,or at least it went to a pig farm. There is far too much waste in this country,and most others in Europe, but surely there must be a better way than all this waste,how many animals were needlessly slaughtered,when other people are hungry? Surely this meat could be put into tins and sent out to less developed countries....but of course...whos going to pay for it? Cheers
12:07 July 27, 2010 by Beavis
It really is about time the supermrkets were tackled on this. I know for a FACT they are the ones to blame. We have fresh fruit delivered to work every 2 weeks from wholesalers (the type is rotated, so we get the same every 4 weeks) After 4 weeks of the food on display in work it is of the same standard that the supermarkets have out on display. Itsa called simple sotck rotation.

The supermarkets put out 10 times more than they can sell on display in one go.

So to solve this simply have wholesale deliver and extra time and put out far less. This means less waste and happy customers..something Swedish supermarkets dont care about as they have no real competition....yet..
13:51 July 27, 2010 by Mb 65
Some of the fruit takes 3 months to get here by refrigerated container, and as soon as it is taken out it starts to rot from the inside out. i try to buy Swedish produced products but it is too expensive and tasteless. the Swedish Cox's apples look like windfalls.I never but fruit, veg or meat that comes from far away countries ( Argentina South Africa Brazil).
15:23 July 27, 2010 by Beavis
@Mb 65 thats simply not the case. The exact same fruit from the same source is fresh on the supermarket shelves in Denamark and Finland (takes the same amout of time to travel) Your buying into the Swedish myth that Swedish food is somehow fresher and better.

The problem here is the supermarkets stockpiling.

You will also notice the Swedish food is just as rotten in the supermarkets
15:30 July 27, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
The first time showed up in sweden, I noticed "bananas" sitting on a table bowl. They were stunted, completely brown and teeming with fruit flies. As a nugget of advice to the new bachelor, I said "Umm, I think those are rotten, you need to throw them out, they have flies" The response was "I just bought them at ICA 2 days ago!" Sure enough, I thought it was time for me to investigate. I walked over to ICA and the Coop. Yep, along with worn out dairy cow sliced in carbon dioxide infused meat trays, there were stunted brown bananas and soft apples for sale. I then wondered "where does crappy produce like this grow?" Syria, Spain, Israel, Brazil apparently.
15:34 July 27, 2010 by Beavis
@ GefleFrequentFlyer Where do you think the bananas you got before you came to Sweden grew!?

Weve bought bananas here direct from the wholesalers (In Stockholm) and they tend to last 5 weeks before they start to go off.Yet when you buy them from ICrap or Poop, they last a couple of days... Here lies the problem..
15:45 July 27, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
I had to laugh when I saw this. My wife (Swedish) and I argue about buying fresh produce. With me, I root around the back for the fresher stuff with longer sell buy dates. My wife says it is my civic duty to take the nearer and older produce that will result in less waste.

My selfish attitude is that the average Swedish consumer neither knows nor cares about fresh food (especially those who use Konsum), so if they want to take what's on offer without checking, "more fool them".
15:48 July 27, 2010 by alingsaskev
It's a three fold thing.

Sweden is at the arse end of Europe and most of its fresh produce comes from the Mediterranean, so by the time it gets here it's past its best.

Sweden had a very short growing season, so it struggles to produce many things itself, however Swedes in their infinite wisdom believe that anything "Swedish" is of superior quality and therefore pay twice or thrice the price for Swedish Strawberries or Swedish Meat in favour of the imported goods (which have to be imported regardless just in case Sweden has a bad growing season and local produce is not available); and thirdly,

Swedes are almost neurotic about checking Best before dates and unlike many other European countries who see knock down price produce (which needs to be used within a few days) as a bargin to be snapped up, Swedes won't touch it with a barge pole.

So there you go, save your thousands of Kronor on this probe, unless you re-educate the entire Swedish Population - theres bugger all you are gonna be able to do about it!
15:50 July 27, 2010 by LostInSweden
They are TOO EXPENSIVE! If ICA or Coop will sell the fruits and veggies at 50%-70% off I am sure they will not rotten on the shelves...
16:00 July 27, 2010 by Beavis
@alingsaskev How come the same fruit and veg in fresh in Denmark, Fniland and even Iceland?!!
18:12 July 27, 2010 by Mb 65
Beavis i am no buying into Sweden's Myth on food. i am constantly tell ICA that their fruit and veg is crap. when i first visited Sweden in 70's i could not believe it the fruit and veg was disgusting. The super markets have improved in what they stock but not the condition of it.
21:14 July 27, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
@Mb65. Don't bother. ICA is a collective monopoly, and the employees are unionized. Why should they care what you think?
21:38 July 27, 2010 by dizzymoe33
It is sad that your meat and produce is so bad off. I guess I am really lucky because I live in Washington State where we grow apples, cherries, necturines, peaches, apricots, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. We always have fresh good produce and meats. When things get close to their use by dates it is marked down and when it doesn't sell it is donated to the local food banks for a tax write off. Sad that Sweden doesn't do that.
00:47 July 28, 2010 by Beavis
Its very much a Swedish supermarket thing and its very sad. Ive been to so called developing nations, and while there may not be the same choice in the shops at least the produce is fresh,waaay fresher than anything youd ever buy in a Swedish supermarket.Definatly by far the worst fruit and veg freshness than in any part of Europe/Americas and Asia
01:55 July 28, 2010 by Da Goat
There are some pretty sick and twisted attitudes above

people need to use the extinct virtue of common sense (ah it is good to reminisce about)

it is totally sick that so much is thrown away (well I hope it is somehow recycled)

imagine all the good animals that died in vain! and stuff rotting away in vain polluting the environment further

this all comes down to greed and stupidity

1 don't stockpile food then sell it at the last minute

2 when it is running out of life sell it cheap (maybe they buy it cheap from comments above)

3 give it to the poor and needy

4 or last resort recycle it for energy or better still animal food!

wasting anything these days is criminal and offensive!

also a hint never ever judge food by how it looks the good looking food is crap and probably tasteless, train yourself to get the real stuff does not always have blemish free skins!

most producers already throw most of their good produce away and only sell the blemish free (usually picked way too early)

so in short we only eat a small fraction of what is produced and the rest of the world starves quite sick really!
05:40 July 28, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Goat: It has nothing to do with greed. ICA/Willys/Coop/Lidl have local monopolies is most areas in sweden. They don't care what you think about their products, because they all get thier inventory from the same place/importers.

It's not like you can stop patronizing said ICA, because in 90% of sweden, it's the only game in town. Unless you want to drive a half hour or more. And, they know this. The oppressive, over regulated, overprotective (of the consumer)and unionized business climate has more to do with rotten beef and apples than greedy businessmen. Remember, this is the same country that had a spat about closing Max Burger because McD's because they sponsored a football match. Really? This place is backwards.

I have for years tried to import american organic (EU certified, non GM) beef and have run into roadblock after roadblock with tullverket. I gave up. I guess they really like 30year old downer cattle smothered in enough beranaise to cover up the bruises and jockey marks.

In the US, I can get the best products from all over the world, quick, fresh and priced right. Sweden isn't THAT backwater, is it?
11:17 July 28, 2010 by cogito
Because Swedes have been brainwashed into believing that Swedish strawberries, tomatoes, etc. are Best in the World, they don't complain about the swine swill that passes for fresh produce here.

The cartel Konsum, ICA, PrixExtra cartel will continue to sell the over-priced slop.
23:50 July 28, 2010 by DAVID T
we get the food that the rest of europe refuses and pay twice as much
02:01 July 30, 2010 by US-Swede-Capitalist
Good old free market competition eliminates bad produce faster than any government legislative policy known to mankind! As long as Swedes accept overpriced rotten food as their "civic duty" (i.e. the wife of commenter EtoileBrilliant), there will continue to be overpriced rotten food in Swedish stores. Say what you will about America and her problems, at least here we ALWAYS have reasonably priced fresh produce and meat in EVERY store, or else they go out of business. And we get fresh produce from all over the globe as well. That's what free market competition does. When the government gets out of the way of entrepeneurs and lets them find a way to provide consumers with what they want, the consumer (and the entrepeneur) wins.

Of course, on the other hand...the overpriced rotten food may explain why Swedish people are all so stylishly slender :~}
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