Red stickers for reduced food loss

HOK-Elanto has for a long time been working persistently to reducing disposal of food items in waste. The cooperative has succeeded in reducing food loss by 30 per cent since 2012. One method to do so has been to use red stickers to indicate reduced prices of products which are approaching their Best before or expiration dates. Red −30% discount stickers have been in use in all chains.

In summer 2015, HOK-Elanto's Alepa stores launched a trial in which customers received a double discount of 60% off the price of products marked with red –30% stickers during the last two store hours (9 p.m–11 p.m.). The double discount was expanded to HOK-Elanto's Prisma stores in February 2016 and to S-Markets in October.

"It is ecological and, from our perspective, financially justified as well. At the same time, it enables our customers to find bargain products and save on their food purchases," Lassi Juntunen, director of the Prisma chain at HOK-Elanto.

Feedback from customers on the double discount has been primarily positive.

"The red sticker products have even generated queues in some stores," says Satu Kattilamäki, Quality and Environmental Manager at HOK-Elanto.

The red sticker practice has improved the circulation of the affected products, and the reduced loss has also decreased waste management expenses.

"For example, in the Alepa chain the waste management expenses decreased by 25–30 per cent during the year, and in some individual stores, the reduction was up to 45 per cent," Kattilamäki explains.

Currently, approximately one per cent of food sold by HOK-Elanto is disposed of in waste. Suitable food items are donated to charity and inedible food is used as raw materials for bioethanol, biogas and fodder.

Photo: Lauri Mannermaa