Markets are innovating to reduce food waste

Individual solutions from stallholders, agreements with environmental entities, training and workshops for raising awareness in every detail etc., initiatives from markets for reusing projects as much as possible.

Sustainability if one of the key driving forces behind Mercats de Barcelona: there is increasing involvement in environmental care in its broadest sense. And it is clear, reducing product waste as much as possible and making the most of that waste is part of this search that markets are making for a more sustainable model.

It is here, as explained by Genís Arnàs, the Head of the Markets Department at the Barcelona Municipal Institute of Market (IMMB), that the expertise of stallholders is a key factor “as they have good knowledge of their products and know how to get maximum yield out of them”. What is more, innovation plays an essential role in reducing waste: “At a meat stall, the butcher sells that day’s fresh meat and, to avoid the creation of excess stock, they presents it in a variety of ways: in skewers, as croquettes or mince for hamburgers…”

Playing a socially cohesive role as essential elements in neighbourhood life, markets have also carried out initiatives with local entities to make the most of their unsold products and even to raise awareness among local residents of the need not to throw away food. So, we now find several of the city’s markets have reached an agreement with social entities whereby they give away all the fresh products that have not been sold. An example of this philosophy’s promotion can be seen in Mercat del Carmel which boasts an anti-food waste mural made by students at the Institut Ferran Tallada.

On the educational level too, markets often collaborate with Espigoladors, a non-profit organisation that is exclusively dedicated to re-using any fresh product left unsold or which would otherwise have been thrown away. Espigoladors, then, visit our markets explaining every type of technique and method for preventing food from going to waste. The group, what is more, was represented at the last edition of the Mercat de Mercats Fair, at a talk explaining the importance of taking sustainability into account when purchasing.

In some cases, innovations for minimising food waste come from our stallholders’ individual initiatives. Such is the case, for example, of Santiago Gracia, from the fishmonger’s, Juanita Peixateries, at the Mercat de l’Estrella. As he himself says, “I’m always looking for ways to recycle, reuse and find environmentally friendly measures, as I’m concerned about the issue”. So Santiago has begun to use an app called “Too good to go“, whose precise aim is to avoid excess food from being thrown away or wasted by selling it at the last moment at a very reduced price. “It’s a way to reach more people — as there are some for whom stall prices are inaccessible whereas the app’s prices — and, what is more, ensure you have nothing left over. Every day there are people who come to my stall to find something”, the fishmonger explains.