Mackindergarten: The enigma that is Danish supermarkets

Netto is in fact an acronym for ‘No end to the oddness’ (Facebook/Netto)
September 18th, 2021 5:00 am| by Adrian Mackinder
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I’ve had it with Danish supermarkets. 

First off, Denmark is a wealthy, resourceful, highly-developed country with a heightened sense of social welfare, trade and commerce. Why can’t they get this right? 

Secondly, because I have experienced decent supermarkets, I know exactly how simple, straightforward and worthwhile it is to actually create and curate a fantastic shopping experience. Denmark doesn’t know this, or doesn’t want to. And given how expensive it is, that’s just not good enough.

Irma, meny, puny, MØ
Danish supermarkets vary of course. There’s Meny, which I like as it most closely resembles the supermarkets back home and actually has some variety, but costs you a kidney just to buy groceries for the weekend. 

Similarly expensive is Irma, which thinks it’s posh because it has its own branded packaging, but isn’t. 

REMA, Føtex and SuperBrugsen are fine – that’s about as good as the praise can be – while Fakta tends to have about eight things on the shelves and is only fit for purpose as a containment unit for daytime drunks to stagger about, looking for chunks of meat that butchers in other countries don’t consider fit for human consumption.

Face up … to yourselves
Then there is Netto, a supermarket chain that has given up. Oh sure, Netto has what you need, but you’re going to have to go on a quest to find it yourself. Don’t expect any help or clues. 

The cereal you say? Oh yes, that’s here somewhere … hidden in between the bleach, novelty condoms and the mountain of fruit left to rot in the middle of an aisle, right next to a pile of hideous outdoor ornaments, DVDs and gin. 

I find it baffling. For many years as a teenager back home, I worked in a local, understaffed supermarket and so I have experience of how easy it is just to do a little mopping up here, some facing up there, or DISPLAYING PRODUCTS IN SOME SORT OF LOGICAL SEQUENCE! 

Come on, Netto, I don’t want to shop in a disused warehouse that never cleaned up its industrial accident.

Super annoying markets
I think the reason people – and by ‘people’ I mean me –  seem so disproportionately irate about their supermarket shopping experience is precisely because the standard of living here is so high. 

People often dismiss this genuine gripe as a ‘first world problem’, or simply reply “So don’t shop there”, but this is missing the point. Bottom line, food and drink is so expensive here across the board, so there’s a perfectly justifiable expectation for superior quality and service. 

And yeah, it’s a first world problem, but if you’re reading this, you live in the first world, so it’s a problem. Yeah, it’s trivial, but I do get pretty annoyed returning from a supermarket run with only half the things on my list due to poor quality or insufficient stock. 

Making Asda look good
And that’s another thing. How come it’s virtually impossible to get all you need in one chain? You have to trudge between two or three. The amount of times I hear people say: “I don’t get veg from Netto, I have to go to Irma for the fruit – oh, the bread is good only in Føtex …” 

How hard can it be for such a wealthy, tiny country to get the service industry up to speed with somewhere like, oh I don’t know, Mordor.

Anyway, what’s this got to do with raising kids in Denmark? Nothing. Except to say that now travel has opened up and I can go home to Britain to visit my friends and family, the first thing I’m going to do with the kids, probably, on the way back from the airport, is take them to Sainsbury’s. It’ll be a treat.

Adrian Mackinder


British writer and performer Adrian Mackinder (adrianmackinder.co.uk) and his pregnant Danish wife moved from London to Copenhagen in September 2015. He now spends all his time wrestling with fatherhood, the unexpected culture clash and being an Englishman abroad.

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