Stora Coop Visby – The Sustainable Store of The Year Now Aiming for Zero Food Waste

There is no doubt Stora Coop Visby is a store at the vanguard of sustainability. In 2019, the store won the prestigious title of ‘Sustainable Grocery Store of the Year’, and recently in 2020, store manager Markus Wahlgren was appointed Sustainable Store Manager of the Year. Excitingly, the store has no plans of slowing down their sustainability efforts – on the contrary – they are raising the bar still further as they aim for zero food waste in 2021.

Efforts have already reduced food waste by two-thirds

Three years ago, a long-term sustainability project was initiated at Stora Coop in Visby.

The store has since then gone from 120 tonnes of food waste in 2018 to 75 tonnes in 2019. After the first six months of 2020, the store’s waste was at 20 tonnes and is expected to end up at around 40 tonnes by the end of the year.

“Whywaste has played a very important part in the reduction of food waste we have seen this year. With easy-to-use systems we can keep track of goods that are in need of some sort of action. We are able to work more efficiently with locating these at-risk items and can maintain lower staff costs as a result”, says Wahlgren.

Store manager Markus Wahlgren, with co-workers Emma Engström, Martin Kristensson, Emma Olofsson and Malin Martin.

Food waste is not good business!   

”Before our sustainability efforts, the date checking routines were still manual, time-consuming and associated with excessive staff related costs”, elaborates Wahlgren.

This made it difficult for Stora Coop Visby to achieve both their financial and sustainability related objectives. It was clear the store was in need of a solution that could effectively reduce food waste and help the store save both time and money.

Fresh produce manager, Jenny Hoffman, completing the daily date checking round.

Systems tailored to fit daily work routines

Whywaste’s systems Semafor and Semafor Deli are now used to support personnel by identifying at risk products before they become food waste.

”The systems are a digital copy of the stores layout. This makes them very compatible with how we work on a daily basis”, Wahlgren explains.

“Our employees complete their daily date checking rounds and receive new price tags continuously as they make their way through the store”, says Markus Wahlgren. “Items with short expiration dates are located and marked down or repurposed directly. This means personnel no longer have to keep track of soon to expire items. The systems handle this automatically.”

Customised assortment and purchase volumes

Wahlgren comments that “Whywaste has managed to help us start working with food waste at an earlier stage. With the analytics tool Aspekt we can access lists of items that are at risk. The tool also provides data on how much food waste a specific item has caused at different periods in time, which helps us customise assortment and purchase volumes accordingly.”

“These lists are fantastic”, says fresh produce manager Jenny Hoffman. “With this information we are able to avoid purchasing excess items. In the long run this means we will reduce food waste and lower our costs”.

Simple installation and launch 

“From the start, we received the help we needed to get started with the systems and new routines. Whywaste was present during launch and installation, which was very valuable for us.

Once you get started, you don’t need much help”, Markus Wahlgren states. “The systems are very intuitive and user-friendly which allows new as well as more experienced staff to quickly learn and use the systems in an efficient way”.

Direct actions to eliminate food waste

After working with Whywaste systems, the store continues their efforts to achieve their goal – zero food waste. By closely monitoring where the waste occurs, they have managed to target specific areas and are taking direct action in several places in the store.

  • Imperfect fruit and vegetables are sold at a reduced price.
  • Remaining bananas go to a
    local company that makes ice cream from them.
  • Every Monday, fish that is left in the counter is auctioned out, before Tuesday’s delivery. This will shortly be implemented in other parts of the store.
  • They make biscuits from cinnamon twists, garlic bread from baguettes and breadcrumbs from buns.
  • A local hotel collects the citrus fruits and uses them to make juice.
  • Student collaborations have also helped the store manage to reduce waste.

The last piece of the puzzle – The Greenbox

The last part of Stora Coop Visbys waste reduction efforts, is a machine from Agrenco, called The Greenbox. It will handle the last 36 tonnes that are estimated to remain after the pervious measures the store has taken.

Moldy oranges, overripe apples or chicken that has expired, can all be disposed in the Greenbox. There waste is converted into soil which can later be used in the store's own tomato cultivation or sold to customers.

“We will then have reached zero waste – and will ultimately be the first grocery store in the world to do so!

Working with sustainability in our store is a continuous process that can, and should, always be improved. We have many exciting projects underway and are constantly working to become even better”, says Markus Wahlgren with a smile.