French supermarkets are no longer allowed to throw away unsold food

Government takes action against wasting food in retail


Ambitious goals: The French government is aiming to reduce waste of food by 50 percent until 2025. This is why supermarkets are no longer allowed to just throw away unsold food. The retailers themselves are criticizing that a new law affects the wrong party.
In France – like in every other western nation – unsold food is often thrown away after just one day of being on sale in supermarkets, no matter whether you are talking about fresh vegetables or other groceries which have just passed their expiration date.
Image: French supermarket; Copyright:

Supermarkets with a size of over 400 squaremetres in Fance are not allowed to throw away unsold food anymore; ©

Sustainability is now required by law

The measures, which the French national assembly has just recently decided on, are part of a legislative proposal by minister of environment Ségolène Royal, at the core of which is the energy transition. In 2012, the socialist government had already set itself the objective of reducing the food waste by 50 percent until 2025.

The proposal in its current form will only affect super- and hypermarkets with a sales area of more than 400 m². The retailers are required by law to engage in measures to reduce waste and to cooperate with aid organizations to donate the food. Alternatively, they can also give the food to producers of animal food or compost.

Retailers criticize the new law

French retail associations are criticizing the law and calling it unjustified. In their opinion, the whole proposal is aimed at the wrong party, since French retailers are only responsible for five percent of the food waste in the country, as Jacques Creyssel from the Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution said in a recent statement. Moreover, a large number of French food retailers is already engaged in cooperations with aid organizations.

A model for Germany as well?

So it remains open as to how this law could also be an appropriate measure for Germany and whether a legislative approach is required. But without a doubt there is a need for action here as well. According to information of the WDR, in France up to 30 kilogram of food are wasted per person and year. In Germany, the number is nearly three times as high: Every German consumer is wasting up to 90 kilogram of food per year.

But first thought should be given to the question if it is really the most effective measure to force the retailers by law to reduce food waste, since the largest share is attributable to the consumers. Extensively informing the consumers about how to handle expiration dates and about the dangers of consuming expired food might just prove to be more effective.

Author: Daniel Stöter; EuroShop
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