by Joachim Marc Christensen

Aside from being one of Europe’s biggest and oldest music festivals, Danish Roskilde Festival is also a massive testing lab for new innovative food solutions and initiatives. We took a food walk to get a taste of the festival’s journey towards the ultimate sustainable food profile.

One million liters of beer, 645,500 cups of coffee, and over one million meals. Roskilde Festival is one of the biggest music events in Europe and it has a lot of mouths to feed – over 130,000 in fact. For example, Meyer’s food stand – the biggest food vendor at the festival – uses 3.5 tons of pork alone for its popular pork roast sandwich. For that amount of food, logistics and planning need extra attention and the non-profit festival has a long tradition of partnering up with some of the most innovative food producers in Denmark. 120 food stands sprawl the camping and festival areas for about a week and one key word has been prevalent within recent years: sustainability. At Roskilde, festival-goers can eat with good conscience and expand their food horizon, and the festival is renowned for its ability to think creatively around how we can eat and drink with a minimum environmental footprint.

We went on a guided food walk through the kitchens, bars and storage areas to learn more about some of Roskilde’s tasty, green initiatives. One thing was for sure: Roskilde Festival is indeed a testing lab for sustainable food solutions. These are the three most interesting culinary takeaways:

Go organic or go home

The most ambitious overall initiative of Roskilde this year is the festival’s new strategy to demand 90% organic products in all of its food stands. The festival has even created its own organic certification in collaboration with the the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, which ensures full transparency for customers and that the food stands live up to the green standards. With such a variety of food providers the tailored certification is a great tool to uphold the festival’s organic profile and can very well serve as inspiration for other festivals around the world. So, why not 100% you may ask? Well, the festival wants to make room for culinary experiments including dishes with wild flowers and crickets, which are difficult foodstuffs to certify. Yes, you can quite literally get bugs in a bun at this festival if you try the Crick’it pulled pork burger, which contains three types of insects (including crickets, of course). While the festival sells 45 tons of beef every year (which leaves room for improvement, considering the environmental impact of red meat), it is nice to see some new sustainable initiatives that can change mindsets around tomorrow’s sustainable diets.

We went on a guided food walk through the kitchens, bars and storage areas to learn more about some of Roskilde’s tasty, green initiatives. One thing was for sure: Roskilde Festival is indeed a testing lab for sustainable food solutions. These are the three most interesting culinary takeaways:

Organic rosé – pink on the inside, green on the outside

The Danes have acquired an unquenchable thirst for rosé wine in recent years and that fact is not lost on Roskilde’s organizers. This year, the festival has introduced its own organic rosé in its bars and stores and it’s selling like hotcakes. Demand has actually been so high that the wine supplier’s initial stock has already been completely swept. However, not only the tasty pink droplets deserve attention, but also its unique packaging. Roskilde has teamed up with Tetra-pak to produce a recyclable carton made of FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) certified paper board. Moreover, the packaging is part of the festival’s recycling scheme, which secures the safe return and recycling of thousands of single use items such as cups and cartons. The rosé’s square packaging also allows for efficient transport which significantly reduces the wine’s overall environmental footprint. Will we see more of this kind of packaging in our supermarkets? We certainly hope so.

From waste to healthy meals for the underprivileged

One of the most inspiring initiatives at the Roskilde Festival is its focus on eliminating food waste and redistributing surplus food. The festival has partnered up with “Det Runde Bord” (translated to The Round Table), which picks up excess food from the food stands and creates healthy meals that reach the stomachs of disadvantaged people all over Denmark, for example in homeless shelters and asylum centers. Since 2014, over 90 tons of food has been saved and over 120 volunteers are now part of the Round Table. Obviously, this initiative is not quite addressing the root of the problem with food waste. In a perfect world the Round Table would not exist because the food stands would be so excellent at reusing their foodstuffs that there would be few leftovers. However, issues such as shifting weather makes food consumption unpredictable and Roskilde has set up a nice system for redistributing nutrition to the ones who need it the most. According to founder and director Peter Haugelund, the the Round Table is bringing its approach and concept to France. Bon voyage!

You will always be able to find room for green improvement for such a massive event like Roskilde Festival, and in particular trash generation in the camping area seems to be the festival’s number one Achilles’ heel – the campers simply use the ground as one big dumpster. However, Roskilde’s approach to food is really a thing to admire. For one week, these initiatives are tested on thousands of people of all ages and the festival definitely has a significant impact on the attitude of festival-goers to food and sustainability. We would be delighted to see initiatives such as more flexible organic certification and innovative packaging for beverages outside of Roskilde.

You can find more innovative food solutions on the Global Opportunity Explorer and explore the growing market for new diets and types of proteins. You can also check out Sustainia’s coverage of Roskilde’s sustainability initiatives on our Instagram account.

Header image: Preston Drake-Hillyard; Burger image: Amy Au; Rose image: Preston Drake-Hillyard