Safer products for consumers

"Consumers in Denmark are well educated about food and product safety. This translates to a strong demand for safer and cleaner products from their retailers", says Ms Malene Teller, head of sustainability and social compliance from COOP Denmark, the largest retailer in the country.

For many years, Coop has worked hard to ban all packaging containing fluorinated substances. Research has recently demonstrated a possible link between high fluoride content in the blood and miscarriages among women.

In 2014 they took additional steps and banned fluorinated substances in the food packaging of their own brands, such as microwave popcorn where a viable alternative was not found.

In some of their own products however, their branded greaseproof paper and baking cups, they were successful in substituting the fluorinated compounds with silicone layers or replacing them with a mechanical treatment of the paper.

Protecting the brand

COOP DK works a lot with authorities, experts and consultants or put pressure on their suppliers to find viable alternatives. They also work closely with industry and NGOs and use ECHA's website for information on the latest developments that might have an impact on their products. Malene explains that COOP DK tries to stay ahead of the substances that might be banned in the near future so that they can start implementing the changes in their products before a full ban is established by the authorities.

"It can be challenging to convince our suppliers why a substance needs to be replaced and for our customers to accept the increased costs."

Malene Teller is very clear about the reasons why substitution has been a successful concept for COOP. They have carefully protected their brand and made sure their consumers know what their products contain and also understand why it is safer than many of the competitors on the market.