Young Estonian entrepreneurs save 330,000 food items from going to waste

  • 2023-08-04
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Sumena, Estonia's first store selling food products approaching or past their "best before" date, saved in the first half of 2023 over 330,000 products that would have otherwise been discarded.

Sumena is founded by young entrepreneurs, one of whom, Oliver Sebastian Lamp, said that the sales revenue of goods approaching or past their "best before" date grew by 146 percent compared to the previous half-year to a total of 268,000 euros, and the number of units sold grew by 207 percent.

"People are trying to save money during these tough times, and sales are increasing every month. For example, a record quantity -- over 3,400 products -- was sold in a single day last week," Lamp said.

"In addition to ordinary people, companies are also consciously and without shame ordering 'best before' snacks and drinks for their employees in the office and for summer events to reduce their ecological footprint," he explained.

"The current economic downturn is making importers and large retail chains think about how to save money and not simply throw good products away. Therefore, our number of suppliers has grown from 15 to 60 compared to a year ago, and goods are also coming from Latvia and Lithuania. Our purchase prices have not significantly risen over the year, so we haven't had to raise our prices. We take relatively large quantities at a time, get them cheaply, and pass them on affordably," the founder of Sumena said.

"More and more handcrafted and organic goods are reaching our store, which often remains on the shelf in regular stores due to their high price, but with a 70-80 percent discount, they sell well. This year, low alcohol beverages have also been added, which are popular in the summer," the company's other co-founder, Joosep Kaljula, said.

"Joosep and I are country boys and we don't just throw food away. Saving food is already a trend in the Nordic countries, where people are more conscious, and waste much less than in Estonia, but things are also moving in the right direction here," Lamp noted.

Founded in 2022, Sumena has an online shop and the company also opened its first brick-and-mortar store at the Balti Jaam market. Sumena employs nine people.