Finland is one of the 10 most expensive European countries to live in. But for one hour every day, people around the country can buy food for dramatically less than the ticket price.

S-market, a chain of 900 supermarkets, is tackling food waste by holding a daily 'happy hour', when items close to their sell-by date are sold at big discounts.

During the day, S-market reduces the price of short-date meat, fish and vegetables by 30%. But come 9pm, prices are cut by 60%.

The chain is aiming for a 15% reduction in food loss by 2020.

An S-market store
A branch of S-market
Image: Wikimedia Commons

S-market’s happy hour has proved popular, with crowds of shoppers waiting for the final price knockdown.

Grab a bag

If you don’t live in Finland, don’t despair. Denmark-based food app Too Good to Go connects people in nine European countries with surplus food. For a small fee, app users get a bag of food, guaranteed to be worth three times what they pay for it.

Too Good to Go, which works with shops, bakeries and restaurants, says it has rescued more than 23 million meals since its launch in 2016, avoiding almost 58,000 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere.

UK online retailer Approved Food sells surplus and short-dated food that is either near or just past its best-before date. It says food is often wasted because consumers don’t understand the difference between a best-before date, which is a rough guide rather than a rule, and a use-by date, after which food should not be eaten.

Bar chart showing how much food is wated globally
Fruit and vegetables are the most wasted food category
Image: Statista

Gone to waste

One-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is wasted every year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). That’s 1.3 billion tonnes.

Consumers in Europe and North America each waste up to 115 kg a year People in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia each throw away up to 11 kg a year on average.

Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. Global food waste has a bigger carbon footprint than India – or 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 a year, the FAO says.