As a result of the evolution made by Markonomia, from this month we would like to offer, once a month, one place on our website to talk about some caring projects that are helping people in their daily life. In this case, we are answered by Sofie Amalie Damkjær Østensgård, from Copenhagen, to talk about Wefood (The project introduced to you yesterday. Link here).
M. We know the fact that one third of all food produced each year is wasted and many people globally are undernourished, not only in impoverished countries. How were the first steps before opening the first WeFood supermarket? What type of projects related to the supply of food did DanChurchAid work on before opening the supermarket?
Sofie Amalie Damkjær: About three years ago the Danish Minister of Agriculture and Food, our General Secretary at Folkekirkens Nødhjælp and Head of CSR at Danish Supermarket Group gathered in a documentary concerning food waste. Then we decided to do something about this huge problem both in an environmentally and economically perspective. We thought in that way we would help the fight against food waste and at the same time help to fight poverty and hunger all over the world.
M. As we can see on your website, the first WeFood supermarket opened in February 2016. How would you describe the experience and the evolution of the project 7 months later? All who visited your supermarket, the experience to prepare the opening of the second one and/or the interest of media to talk about your project.
S. D. We have only been open about 6 months, and the second Wefood is not open yet. It will open the 7th of November. Since the beginning, it has had a very positive welcome all over the world. We think it is a new way of thinking and a new way to try to solve the problem about food waste. Every year more than 700.000 tons of food are wasted only in Denmark, and after 6 months Wefood have had opened we have received over 40 tons of food that normally are destroyed.
One of the biggest challenges when opening our second store is going to be to get enough volunteers. Without volunteers, Wefood would not exist. Right now we are quite low on getting enough volunteers and that is really a challenge for us. Therefore, we really need to get more in the new store. We have many different contacts to different suppliers to ge t enough groceries and products to the stores and we also possess a lot of food in stock, but we need to get more suppliers as well in the new area. Right now we are working really hard on recruiting many new volunteers and to help us making the new store ready till the 7th of November.
M. Having in mind the type of project you develop, we would like to know, nowadays, about the relationship with the different supermarkets working in Denmark. At the beginning, how was the process of making deals with them? When Danish government knew about WeFood project, did you receive the support of the government?
S. D. In the beginning it was the people behind Wefood who made different collaborations with different supplies. Now, we are getting contacted from a lot of different suppliers that want to help us out. Yes, they have shown a lot of interest and they have also participated in different events by us. But we haven’t received any financial support.
In general, everything we sell in the supermarket is transferred to money and goes to Dan Church Aid, but some of it goes to cover different costs for example petrol for cars. Although we only have one van and some of the groceries we receive, some of our suppliers deliver it to our store. When we opened our first store, we got a lot of the different inventory donated from different companies. For example our fridges and freezers were donated. We also got two electrical bikes with a small fridge as well, donated from a Danish bicycle brand.
M. On your website we can read about the variability of products that WeFood offers every day depending on the donations received. After 7 months and a new opening planned for November, the 7th, what type of products are the most donated and available for your customers? And which products you would like to offer but they are difficult to receive?
S. D. We only have one supermarket and we have only been open about 7 months so we are still learning. It depends on what and how much we get. I would say all fruits, vegetables and bread we get are sold out the same day. Our customers love when we make Facebook posts on what we receive from our different suppliers.
I don’t know, actually. The best products to receive are everything from chocolate to milk. When people save a lot of money then almost all products are popular. It is really different from day to day what kind of groceries we receive.
M. WeFood supermarket has to do all duties like any other supermarket (supply chain, communication, sales …). Is all team made up of volunteers? Did you decide to seek people related to the sector to enhance your knowledge about how to run a supermarket as well?
Wefood only operates with volunteer work; there are about 80 volunteers that are in charge of the store. The only one getting paid is our project manager. The volunteers do everything from getting different groceries from our suppliers and from different supermarkets. In the picture attached you can see, who is behind Wefood. We have different teams where each team has around 10-20 volunteers. I will quickly translate for your readers:
Leverandørteam (Logistics): They are responsible for getting groceries or other products and for the contact between our suppliers and the collaboration.
Butiksteam (Store team): They are responsible for all service and sales in the store. They also do a food safety course when they work with food and food safety.
Økonomi (Economics): They do everything for overviews of the sales in the store, but also economics in general: house rent and other costs.
Sociale medier-og eventteam (Social media and event team): In charge of all events and different social media jobs to put focus on food waste, our different offers etc.
HR (Human resources): They are responsible for the internal communication, for social gatherings for all volunteers and for different ad hoc assignments.
Teamledergruppe (Team leaders): Management boards what are mainly responsible for the stores and organization in general.