Skip to main content

Stockholm City Mission opens Scandinavia’s first social supermarket

Illustration photo

A food store that helps economically disadvantaged people while also reducing food waste. 

This autumn that initiative will become a reality when Stockholm City Mission and Axfood collaborate to open Scandinavia’s first social supermarket. Orkla Foods Sverige is one of the organisations that will be helping to finance the project.

Today, while many people in Sweden lack the money to put food on their table, some 622,000 tonnes of fully edible food are thrown away. That equates to 65 kilos of food per person per year – thrown away totally unnecessarily.

On the European continent, in countries such as Austria, so called social supermarkets have already been in existence for more than 15 years – and the results have been highly positive. These stores exist to reduce unnecessary food waste at the same time as they provide an opportunity for people who are economically disadvantaged to buy food at a very low price.

Before the end of 2015 Stockholm City Mission will be opening a store along the same lines in the Swedish capital. This will be the first social supermarket in any of the Scandinavian countries.

“For a long time now we have been considering how best to respond to the numerous requests we receive for donations of food. Our aim is to help people living in poverty in a way that respects their dignity. We believe that the social supermarket concept is one successful solution for how to do this,” says Marika Markovits, Director of Stockholm City Mission.

Economically disadvantaged people will be given an opportunity to become members and, as such, will be able to buy the products on offer at one third of the regular price. Another key function of the supermarket is to help people to establish a foothold in the labour market by providing work training opportunities. The supermarket will also be open to all those people with a strong commitment to environmental issues who wish to support the initiative by buying the food that is on offer at full price.

Close collaboration with a number of major companies in the food industry

The store is a pilot project that will be owned and operated by Stockholm City Mission. However, the initiative is that of the Swedish food retailer and wholesaler, Axfood, which owns the Willys and Hemköp food stores. Almost a dozen companies, most of them in the food processing and food production industries, have declared their support for the initiative by pledging to donate food for sale in the store. The stock will be close to or past its “best before” or “sell by” date, or such that sale in a standard store is not possible. The aim is for the store to receive, sell and supply 200 tonnes of food during its first year of operation.

“Reducing food waste plays a key role in our environmental and sustainability work. If we can do this at the same time as we are also providing a service to society, so much the better,” says Åsa Domeij, Head of Environment and Social Responsibility at Axfood.

The issue of food waste is also high on the agenda for Orkla Foods Sverige, one of Sweden’s biggest food companies and a co-financier of the project.

“Obviously we have no wish to throw away food that we haven’t succeeded in selling. Collaborating with Stockholm City Mission in this way not only enables us to avoid discarding food products, but it is also positive for the environment and of great help to people who find themselves in a difficult financial position. It’s a fantastic solution that feels really good,” says Cecilia Sjöholm, CSR Director at Orkla Foods Sverige.

Co-financiers of the project

Vinnova, Axel Johnson, Arvid Nordquist HAB, Bring, Coca-Cola Sweden, HKScan Sweden AB, Nestlé Sverige AB, Santa Maria AB, SCA, Orkla Foods Sverige.

For more information, please contact:

Sandra Axell, Press Officer, Stockholm City Mission, tel. +46 (0)704-56 81 17
Claes Salomonsson, PR & Communication Manager, Axfood AB, +46 (0)708-10 24 02

About Stockholm City Mission 

Stockholm City Mission is a non-profit organisation. It is independent from the Swedish state, the Stockholm City authorities and the church but collaborates with municipalities, county councils and other non-profit organisations. Stockholm City Mission provides help to people who are homeless or living with substance abuse, and to children, young adults and the elderly. Stockholm City Mission also conducts educational activities and social enterprises. The work is carried out by paid employees and volunteers. Funding is provided through donations from private individuals, companies, religious congregations, funds, endowments, grants from the state, municipalities and county councils, and through income from Stockholm City Mission’s own commercial activities.

About Axfood AB

Axfood AB is food retailer and wholesaler in Sweden. Retail operations are conducted through the wholly owned food store chains Willys and Hemköp. Axfood has a total of 257 wholly owned stores. In addition, Axfood collaborates with a large number of proprietor-run stores that are linked to Axfood through various agreements. These include stores within the Hemköp chain as well as those trading under the Handlar’n and Tempo brands. In all, Axfood works in close collaboration with some 820 proprietor-run stores. B2B sales are managed through Axfood Närlivs and the wholly owned Axfood Snabbgross chain. Wholesale operations are conducted through Axfood Sverige. Axfood is listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm Large Cap list. The company’s principal owner is Axel Johnson AB, with 50.1% of the shares