The Guardian:Tesco food waste rose to equivalent of 119m meals last year

2016-6-16 17:19:30

Tesco has revealed that the amount of food waste generated by the supermarket giant increased to 59,400 tonnes last year – the equivalent of nearly 119 million meals.

Tesco is the only major supermarket to publish its food waste data, and the increase came despite numerous initiatives designed to tackle the problem. The figure represents a 4% increase on 2015 with its beers, wines and spirits aisles and bakeries blamed for the rise. The amount wasted was the equivalent of one in every 100 food products sold by Tesco during the last financial year.

The new figures, which were published at the time of its annual report, come as Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis today used a major industry conference to call for collective action to tackle food waste right across the supply chain – from farms to supermarketoperations, right through to customers’ homes.

“When I arrived at Tesco, we were the only UK retail company to publish our food waste data,” he said, “What the data shows is that it’s clear where we need to focus our efforts … nearly three years after we announced it, we are still the only UK retailer publishing our data.”

He also called on companies, in the short term, to do more to redistribute their surplus edible food waste to people in need.

Tesco has published its food waste figures since 2013, but no other retailer has followed suit. The retail giant says the transparent approach has helped it to identify hotspots and develop programmes to tackle the problem. While the problem got worse in its bakery departments last year, Tesco said it had managed to cut produce waste by 2%. The meals calculation uses a factor of 0.5kg for the average weight of a meal.

Lewis, a former Unilever executive who was drafted in to lead a turnaround of Tesco in 2014, told the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum: “Tackling food waste makes sense for business, it will help people and our planet, and it’s also the right thing to do.”

To cut waste, Tesco has tried to reduce the time that food sits in its supply chain so that it can sell produce that lasts longer. It has also widened specifications to sell more of a crop with a range of “wonky” fruit and vegetables called “Perfectly Imperfect”, which launched in February. The retailer has also promised to redistribute all edible food waste from stores to charities by the end of 2017.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are confident that despite the small increase in our waste this year we have the right plans in place to see a reduction in future years and are proud of the work we have already done to redirect surplus food to provide millions of meals for those in need.”

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