Danes Waste 104 Pounds Of Food Per Year. For Americans, It's 273.

The country has cut its food waste by 25 percent over the past five years.
<span>A customer browses a cabinet of fresh vegetables for sale inside a Netto discount store, operated by Danske Supermarked
A customer browses a cabinet of fresh vegetables for sale inside a Netto discount store, operated by Danske Supermarked A/S, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Friday, June 27, 2014. 

Could the Danes hold the key to addressing global food waste?

The Scandinavian country has emerged as an international leader on the issue thanks to some unique approaches outlined by NPR’s Sidsel Overgaard. 

Food waste in the country is down 25 percent over the past five years -- the highest waste reduction in the European Union, the Copenhagen Post reported earlier this year. According to NPR, the average Dane throws out 104 pounds of food annually, compared with a whopping annual estimate of 273 pounds for each American. 

Stop Wasting Food, an advocacy organization backed by Selina Juul, has been credited with the decrease. So have grocery chains like Dansk Supermarked, which sells food nearing its expiration date at a reduced price in a specially-marked, dedicated area rather than discarding it. Dansk is also utilizing a new IT system to keep better track of what types of inventory most frequently go to waste, NPR reports. When that system identified bread as the top culprit, the chain started to order less and dedicated more space to sell bread nearing expiration at a reduced price. These efforts reduced their bread waste by 60 percent.

Still, there is more progress to be made. Danish food waste still totals more than 700,000 tons annually, costing Danish consumers more than $1.6 billion dollars a year, according to the organization United Against Food Waste. 

Internationally, one-third of the food produced for consumption is wasted -- a troubling figure given that some 795 million people globally are undernourished.


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