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Why Germans should panic-buy during the pandemic

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During the first wave of coronavirus infections back in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel implored the population to act responsibly and refrain from stockpiling food and other items. She said hoarding supplies — the German word is Hamsterkauf, or shopping like a hamster — was both unnecessary and selfish.

Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner recently told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there is no need for Germans to indulge in a new round of panic-buying. She also said stockpiling was illogical and selfish. Klöckner added that "much of what we buy ends up in the trash."

DW's Fabian Schmidt

Klöckner's reasoning is just as illogical. If panic-buying is unnecessary, it cannot simultaneously be selfish. If, as we are told, there is enough food for everyone, then it should not make a difference if someone decides to irrationally stockpile large quantities of it.

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By urging us to act sensibly and limit ourselves to buying only what we need, the minister is effectively saying we do face a potential, if temporary, food shortage. To show solidarity with others is certainly helpful. But that does not imply we should not stockpile food and other necessities.

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Complaints about food waste irk me. According to a WWF study, each year 18 million tons of food are thrown away in Germany. This translates to 225 kilograms (495 pounds) per person. The University of Stuttgart found that 60% of this food waste is produced by private households. If we factor this into the equation, each German wastes 370 grams (13 ounces) of food per day on average.

Can this be true? Are most people not rational enough to avoid discarding the food that they have bought with their hard-earned cash? In my home, there is no food waste at all aside from the occasional bit of stale bread.

Read more: US could see half a million coronavirus deaths by end of winter, study warns

Maybe we should follow the example of supermarkets, especially the low-cost ones. Despite the vast quantities of food that they handle each day, they........

© Deutsche Welle

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