Watergius's Journal

The world as I see it

The dilemma of discounted foods

I visited a seminar provided by STUBE Baden Württemberg three weeks ago : Shoppen hier – Schuften dort: globale Zusammenhänge von Konsum und Arbeitsbedingungen (Shopping here – Labour there : global correlation between consumption and working conditions). One of the session discussed was about food waste.

I was a litte bit naive, I guess, by thinking that european countries would never waste foods. I never really informed my self about the topic and have never bothered to searched more, until this video was shown in the seminar.

The video talks about the amount of foods that are wasted by supermarket in Germany and France. More than half of our foods are ended up as carbage, even before they reach our plate. As a costumer we don’t want only one type of product in the supermarket’s shelves, but instead we want many options. The supermarket then have to buy all types of products to satisfy our needs, but not all these products will be sold. Those that are left will then go as a waste and be thrown away.

Another point that is mentioned in the video is about the expiration date. This date is given by the industry, not by an authority or government office. It doesn’t contain clues or indications of health risks. The date only guarantee a specific properties, for example that a yogurt will stay creamy. And it is also mentioned in the video, that this expiration date is getting shorter compared to years before, which mean “more waste”.

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Instead of throwing away these foods, why don’t the supermarket give it to poor people or at least sell it at cheaper price?, you might ask.

One of the speaker of the seminar (she is German) shared, that before, it was ok for people to take these ‘unwanted foods’ from supermarket’s trash bins. However now days supermarket have installed fence around their property (and of course the trash bins are inside this fence) and all attempts to take foods from it will be counted as a trespassing and are considered against the law.

About selling at cheaper price, actually supermarket in Germany sell products that are near their expired date on a discounted price. However there are still a lot of foods waste that are produced everyday.

My theory, when I think as a businessman (or supermarket owner), then I will not put out all the discounted products (products at or past the expiration date). If I were to do that, people will only buy those products and I will not make profits. Could that also be the reason, why throwing ‘good foods’ is preferable than giving them away to the people who need it? I cannot really tell.

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