Distribution of non-marketable food products

The distribution of non-marketable food products refers to products, which are no longer considered merchantable, and thus are reintroduced into the value chain in various ways.

Aim and innovation

About 11 million tons of food products are annually thrown away in Germany. The origin of food waste in industrialized countries is mostly in the retail and consumer sector in form of products exceeding the best-before-date and the waste in private households. Additionally, there are substantial losses directly following the harvest, as fruits and vegetables that do not meet consumers' demands due to visual deficiencies, are not merchandized at all.[1]


There are different approaches to merchandize food products which have been priorly categorized as not marketable (anymore) that show solutions to reduce food waste. Corporations like Sirplus buy excess products and merchandize them in the internet or in retail stores in order to prevent wastage.[2] Moreover, there are shops as ›The Good Food‹ which buy products that exceed the expiration date but are still edible due to their manner of processing.[3] In order to reduce waste immediately after harvest, visually deviating products are sold as ›unusually shaped vegetables‹ (either) separately or in cooperating food retailing markets. [4] The American company ›Impact Bioenergy‹ builds mobile biogas plants for restaurants and bulk consumers in order to produce energy from the daily leftovers and waste.[5]


Sirplus, The Good Food, Impact Bioenergy, Etepetete, Querfeld


waste and recycling (user practices)



farmers, food retailing, consumers


Development and current dynamics

A growing number of start-ups are currently founded with the objective to reduce food waste through alternative marketing forms. Consumers are becoming more and more sensitive with the topic and the acceptance of unconventional products is continuously increasing.


Sustainability potential


  • resource efficiency in production and consumption
  • promotion of regional, closed nutrient cycles (indirect)


  • increasing food security (indirect)
  • promotion of circular economy


  • awareness/ education for sustainable nutrition (indirect)

Risks/ disadvantages

There is a potential risk in increased resource use due to postal shipping of the deficient or excess food products. Besides, an acceptance of continuous food waste could also appear in this context.



The distribution of non-marketable food products refers to products, which are no longer considered merchantable, and thus are reintroduced into the value chain through companies selling the excess products in the internet and stores or supporting the energetic recovery of food products. The niche is currently in continuous growth. The sustainability potential is given in terms of promoting resource efficiency and circular economy, however, not properly developed further.


[1] Bundeszentrum für Ernährung (2018): Lebensmittelverschwendung. Web, 04.06.2018. https://www.bzfe.de/lebensmittelverschwendung-1868.html

[2] SirPlus (2018): Über uns. Web, 04.06.2018. https://sirplus.de/pages/uber-uns

[3] The good food (2018): Über uns. Web, 04.06.2018. www.the-good-food.de/ueber-uns/

[4] Aldi Süd (2018): Ein Zeichen gegen Lebensmittelverschwendung – krumme Dinger bei ALDI SÜD. Web, 04.06.2018. www.aldi-sued.de/de/sortiment/lebensmittel/lebensmittelverschwendung/

[5] Impact bioenergy (2018): About Impact bioenergy. Web, 04.06.2018. impactbioenergy.com/about/

[6] Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (2018b?): Studie über Lebensmittelabfälle in Deutschland. Web, 04.06.2018. https://www.bmel.de/DE/Ernaehrung/ZuGutFuerDieTonne/_Texte/Studie_Zu-gut-fuer-die-Tonne.html