A new supermarket that opened in Copenhagen, Denmark this week sells the products other stores don't want.
WeFood sells food, cosmetics and household items that other stores had rejected -- either because they neared their expiration dates, had been wrongly labeled or had damaged packaging -- but are still legal to sell and safe to consume. The store's goods are priced 30 to 50 percent lower than those in regular supermarkets, according to WeFood.
WeFood is a joint project from Fødevarebanken, or "The Food Bank," a Danish nonprofit that distributes surplus produce to homeless shelters, and DanChurchAid, a religious charity that works to eradicate poverty, HIV/AIDS and hunger. All of the store's proceeds will go to DanChurchAid's work in developing nations like South Sudan and Bangladesh, said Nikolaj Søndergaard, a spokesman for DanChurchAid.
Danish Food and Environment Minister Eva Kjer Hansen, who attended the Monday opening, also applauded its efforts fighting the "ridiculous" amount of food waste in Denmark. Denmark throws away about 700,000 tons of food every year, according to several estimates.
Food waste is a major problem for the whole world.
Some 795 million people are undernourished globally, according to the World Food Program. Yet about a third of all food produced in the world -- some 1.3 billion tons -- is lost or wasted each year, according to the United Nations. The cost of global food wastage is about $1 trillion dollars a year, the U.N. says.
Wasting food also contributes to climate change. Producing, distributing, consuming and disposing of food uses significant amounts of energy and water. In the United States, food production, distribution and disposal account for over 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Food that goes unconsumed each year releases an estimated 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to U.N. statistics for 2013.
In some countries, food waste is partly due to misconceptions about what expiration dates mean. In the United States, for example, the dates printed on food products typically help stores decide how long to put the product on sale or tell buyers the product's peak time of consumption, the Agriculture Department says. The dates are not usually a definitive indicator of when food goes bad.
Some European companies and countries are taking positive steps to battle food waste.
Last year, British retailer Marks & Spencer pledged to donate food that is to expire soon to people in need, with an aim to reduce its own food waste by 20 percent by 2020. France also passed a law earlier this month that banned large food vendors from disposing or destroying food nearing its expiration date.
In Denmark, if WeFood's popularity continues and it's able to maintain its food deliveries, Søndergaard said the store plans to open branches across the country.