A Finnish take on food waste

Do you often wonder where salable food ends up when it “expires” and can no longer be officially sold? Maybe you suspect that you already know (the garbage). Yet it pains you to think of all the waste, particularly when food is still plenty edible and so many people go hungry?

A recent New York Times article reported on a two-year campaign in Finland to reduce food waste in which supermarkets slash the prices of food items every evening at set hours. The campaign hopes to draw “regular” customers to snatch up the items at a fraction of their regular cost, avoiding otherwise their dumpster fate.

The article pointed out the consequences of food waste from a climate change perspective, including the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food lost during harvest, production or consumer waste, as well as the methane emissions from rotting food in landfills.

Ideally, one would avert food waste by purchasing less in the first place. However, this campaign attempts to stem losses by incentivizing consumers to purchase food that then needs to be eaten relatively soon. Novel idea or nonsense?