Tesco has announced a brand new scheme to be piloted in its stores that will see unsold food to charities and not to waste, following new figures revealing 55,400 tonnes of food was wasted within Tesco operations in the last year – around 30,000 tonnes of which could otherwise have been eaten.
Tesco has partnered with UK food redistribution charity FareShare and Irish social enterprise FoodCloud to trial the FareShare-FoodCloud app in the UK, which will aim to redistribute surplus food from Tesco stores to people in need.
The new scheme will mean eliminating the need to throw away food within Tesco stores that could otherwise be eaten.
Using the FareShare-FoodCloud app, Tesco store managers will alert charities to the amount of surplus food they have at the end of each day. The charity then confirms it wants the food, picks it up free of charge from the store and turns it into meals for those in need.
Lindsay Boswell, FareShare – “We understand that customers get angry when they see food being wasted in their local store. We do too and that is why we have spent 20 years developing our successful charity redistribution model”
Beneficiaries will come from the wide range of charities FareShare works with including homeless hostels, women’s refuges and breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children.
The scheme is already in place at Tesco stores in Ireland, and will now be piloted in ten Tesco stores around the UK.
Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO said: “This is potentially the biggest single step we’ve taken to cut food waste, and we hope it marks the start of eliminating the need to throw away edible food in our stores.”
Lindsay Boswell, FareShare CEO said: “We understand that customers get angry when they see food being wasted in their local store. We do too and that is why we have spent 20 years developing our successful charity redistribution model.”
Supermarket Food Waste
Tesco is the only supermarket to publish its own independently assessed food waste data. The latest publication showed that the amount of food thrown away had dipped from 56,580 tonnes in 2013/14 to 55,400 tonnes in 2014/15.
The food most commonly thrown away in Tesco stores is from the bakery, followed by fresh fruit and vegetables and convenience items like pre-packaged sandwiches and salads.
Iseult Ward, Co-founder of FoodCloud said: “FoodCloud has already been successful in connecting food outlets with charities in Ireland through our unique technological solution for surplus food redistribution.
“Our work in Ireland means that over 300 charities have already benefited from using the platform. It has helped us create a robust model that we have translated for the UK market.”
Across the food supply chain, around 1% of food waste occurs within supermarket operations. The rest is thrown away earlier in the chain – in suppliers’ fields and factories – or in customers’ own homes.
Tesco ended Buy One Get One Free offers on fruit and vegetables in the UK in April 2014. Tesco has also worked with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to include ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ hints and tips on the packaging of a number of fruit and vegetable products on sale.
In May this year France announced it would put a ban in place that will stop supermarkets in the country from disposing unsold food to landfill.
Under the new law, supermarket chains will have to donate food – which would have been discarded to landfill – to charity for human consumption, or turn it into animal feed, compost or energy. Stores larger than 400 square metres must sign a contract with a charity to donate edible products.
The announcement resulted in a petition signed by 166,000 people calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to follow France’s example and force UK supermarkets to donate edible food to charities.
The petition founder, Lizzie Swarf, said: “Given that the UK is facing an ever-more worrying reliance on food banks, shouldn’t we be thinking along these lines too?
“Rather than wasting millions of pounds worth of food that is still usable, make supermarkets donate their leftover products that are still safe to eat, to food banks.”