REGULATION (EU) No 1169/2011: A way towards reducing food waste?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Camilla Andersen
  • Martin Manley Hansen
Introduction: FAO estimates that each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is wasted. The EU is responsible for 90 million tons of the environmental impact from total wastage in the world, and within the borders of Denmark, 540 thousand tons of food are wasted every year. Coop Danmark A/S is used as a case study due to their already existing work with food waste and their Food Waste Manifesto from 2013.
In December 2014 a new EU Regulation concerning the sale of expired food products, those exceeding the “mindst  holdbar  til” date, will be implemented in Denmark. In the EU and in Denmark, the discussion on food waste has pointed to date labels as a contribution to the unnecessary disposal of edible food.

Problem formulation: How will REGULATION (EU) No 1169/2011, in relation to the sales of food products that have exceeded the “mindst holdbar til” date, be perceived by the food system, with a focus on Coop and Danish consumers, and can the EU Regulation help to reduce food waste Denmark?

Theories: To help answer the problem formulation, two theories have been used: social construction of technology and the concept of translation within actor–network theory.

Methods: A variety of methods have been used to assess the different perceptions of the EU Regulation among the relevant social groups within the food system. Data collection was done on both the primary level (interviews, questionnaire and focus group interviews) and on the secondary level (literature search, research papers, and official policy papers).

Results: Among consumers, the results show limited knowledge and understanding about elements within the date labels “mindst   holdbar   til” and “sidste   anvendelsesdato.” The confusion was most evident in the area of food safety. Among the different social groups, analysis and research papers show different perceptions and translations of the EU Regulation and food waste, as well as ambiguous indications that the new EU Regulation can help to reduce food waste in Denmark and in Coop supermarkets.

Conclusion: Among the relevant social groups, there is a hesitant stance toward the implementation of the EU Regulation, and it seems like all social groups are waiting to see how other social groups will react to it. Forty percent of the questionnaire respondents thought that food products that had exceeded the “mindst holdbar til” date, would pose a health risk, and 12 % were unsure. This can be an obstacle in the implementation of the EU Regulation.
There are ambiguous indications that the EU Regulation can help to reduce food waste in Denmark and in Coop supermarkets. Analyses show that either the food products will be given to charity or they will be sold to the consumer. It is not likely that the supermarkets will continue to discard the food products.
Publication date4 Jun 2014
Number of pages186
ID: 198541257