Finland's first supermarket selling only "rescued food" to open in Helsinki

Finn Church Aid will open Finland's first-ever supermarket focused on selling surplus food next month in one of the city's newest shopping centres.

For an increasing number of people in Finland the need for affordable food has been steadily rising for some time.

Heikki Hursti of the Hursti Charitable Foundation in Helsinki, a group that hands out food aid to an ever-growing queue of people in the city, said in a July interview that the number of people in need of daily food assistance in the capital has increased by a factor of 10 during the past 10 years.

Now, WeFood, a supermarket for "rescued food", will open next month in Helsinki's Kalasatama district, and sell out-of-date but perfectly edible foods at discounted prices.

According to project manager Else Hukkanen, nearly half a billion kilogrammes of food goes to waste in Finland every year.

The surplus store aims to make a dent in that number by selling produce past its best-before date and products considered second rate due to damaged packaging or inadequate labelling. Hukkanen says that the shop will not sell spoiled food.

"We have the responsibility to only sell edible goods. We will closely check all the products we receive before putting them up for sale," she says.

It is unclear at this point how the store in Kalasatama will discount its goods.

Selection varies from day to day

The selection at WeFood will vary from day to day, based on what the partner firms have to offer. Hukkanen says the products will be sourced from retail or wholesale stores, or directly from the manufacturers.

"Customers will not be able to find the same assortment in our shop every day," she says.

However, vegetables, fruit and dry goods should be available daily, and in the future, home products like washing detergent may be on offer, she adds.

The store was able to raise 50,000 euros through crowd-funding, while the environment ministry provided a grant of 25,000 euros.

"At some point, we'll be able to cover rental expenses, and any profit beyond that will go to the Finn Church Aid’s development programmes," Hukkanen says.

Three WeFood stores currently operate in Denmark. If the shop proves to be popular in Helsinki, the concept may spread to other Finnish cities too, according to Hukkanen.

With the exception of the store manager, all of the staff in the shop will be volunteers.

The store will open on 20 September in Kalasatama's REDI shopping centre. The shop is sponsored by Finn Church Aid, a faith-based development organisation that provides humanitarian assistance.
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