Berlin supermarket chain SirPlus sells expired products and wonky vegetables in a bid to reduce food waste.
According to the World Economic Forum, it saved around 2,000 tonnes of food waste in one year.
In Germany, it is legal to sell products that are past their expiry date if the customer is informed. So SirPlus sells misshapen “visually unappealing” fruits and vegetables, cans and packets of food past their expiry date, and food that is close to its expiry date, at discounts of up to 80 percent.
The supermarket—which has five stores, as well as an online platform—has a large vegan offering. It sells sauces, snack bars, crisps, chocolate, smoothies, and dairy-free milk. All of the stock comes from retailers, logistics companies, farmers, and wholesalers.
The Food Waste Problem
In Germany, 18 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world wastes or loses around one-third of the food it produces. At the same time, there are nearly 690 million people in the world who are hungry.
Food waste also wastes resources. According to Ben Simon—the co-founder and former CEO of Imperfect Foods, an online platform that also sells wonky or misshapen produce at reduced prices—in the U.S, it wastes nearly a quarter of the water supply. This amounts to more than $172 billion of wasted water. It also wastes around 18 percent of cropland.
Simon wrote for Forbes: “this comes with a heavy carbon footprint as well. When food is disposed of in a landfill, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane.”
Like SirPlus and Imperfect Foods, a number of companies are working to solve the food waste problem.
Apeel Sciences is working to help prevent fruits and vegetables from going off. It uses plant-derived solutions to add more layers to the surface, extending the shelf-life without any need for refrigeration.
James Roger, the founder and CEO of the company, told Tech Crunch: “the food system is taxed beyond its limit. We view our job at Apeel to build the food system. [It must support] the weight of a couple of more billion people on the planet.”