‘Sell ugly fruit’: How Spain plans to stamp out food waste

Spain has introduced a new draft law to minimise food waste, forcing shops to sell ugly fruit and vegetables, among other measures.

A market seller in Spain
Spain aims to cut down on food waste. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

The Council of Ministers approved Monday a draft law to combat food waste, making sure that shops promote the sale of “ugly, imperfect or unsightly” products that are ripe and ready for consumption, as well as to encourage sales of local, organic and bulk foods.

This was announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, during the press conference after the Council of Ministers.

The project for the Prevention of Food Loss and Waste consists of 15 plans of action, which seek to produce a drastic reduction in food waste.

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2020 Spanish households threw away more than 1,300 million kilos of uneaten food, which is 31 kilograms per litre per capita.

With this new law, the Spanish government ratifies its commitment to comply with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.  

READ ALSO: Spain to ban plastic packaging for food and vegetables from 2023

Food donation

One of the points in the government’s plan is to ensure the donation of food with sufficient shelf life to non-profit companies or food banks. Food industries, commercial establishments, as well as hotels and restaurants will be forced to sign agreements with receiving organisations. If companies do not comply with the new rules, four types of sanctions have been introduced that can be fine businesses between €6,001 to €150,000. 

Transformation of foods 

The second point calls for shops and businesses to transform unsold foods, which are still ripe for consumption, such as making fruit into jams and juices. When they are not suitable for human consumption, food must be used as by-products for animal feed, quality compost for agricultural use, or for obtaining biogas or other types of fuel. 

Expiration and best before dates 

Another of the new obligations will be to separate and clearly differentiate products which are close to their best before date and sell them at lower prices or donate them. It also states that businesses should promote products whose best before dates have expired, if they’re still fit for consumption.  

Takeaway food at restaurants and catering services

Hotels and other catering will also have to offer their customers the possibility of taking away food that they have not finished and will have need to sure they show this option on the menu. For this, they must have suitable reusable containers.

Institutions such as health and educational centers or residences that offer catering or dining services must also have programmes for the prevention and reduction of food waste and report on how much food is thrown away.

Selling ugly fruit

Stores with a surface area of ​​400 meters or more will have to promote the sale of products considered “ugly, imperfect or unsightly”. Along these lines, they will have to encourage the sale of seasonal, local, ecological, and environmentally sustainable foods and improve information on how to use them.


Public administrations will be obliged to carry out informative and promotional campaigns to encourage responsible food consumption and promote the prevention and reduction of food loss and waste, as well as to draw up good practice guides aimed at improving food management.

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Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English.