Reducing food waste

Food waste

Why it matters

Our food system is coming under increasing pressure and there are already significant concerns around global food security.

Find out why it matters

Our approach

Developing a core programme to tackle food waste in our own operations and with our suppliers and customers.

Find out about our approach

25 food waste hotspots

Shopping basket illustration

Where food is wasted

Around a third of all food grown worldwide may be lost or wasted across the value chain – most notably in agriculture, in the supply chain and with customers. This breakdown will vary by market with greater agricultural and supply chain losses in

middle and lower income countries. The infographic illustrates where food waste occurs in the value chain for goods produced for and consumed in the UK.

Total waste along the value chain - 32%: Agriculture and supply chain - 16%, Retailer - less than 1%, consumer - 16%

Source: WRAP UK, 2014 data. Percentages denote amounts of food wasted as a proportion of that produced for UK consumption.


Agriculture and supply chain

Food losses can occur on farm and in the supply chain for a variety of reasons including weather, disease and pests, problems during storage and changes to product orders. We are committed to working closely with our producers and suppliers to help identify causes of waste and find ways to prevent this happening.



We run a number of initiatives in our own operations to stop food going to waste such as reducing the cost of products close to their sell by date. We make sure that any surplus food is well managed and send as much as possible to charities helping those in need. We are now in the process of rolling out our best practice in the UK to the rest of the Tesco Group.



Recent research has shown that half of Tesco customers throw away food because they are unaware it has passed its expiry date. One third of customers told us they regularly cook more than they mean to and a quarter admit they struggle with how to use up leftovers. We are committed to finding ways helping our customers to reduce food waste in the home and save money in the process.


56,580 tonnes of food were wasted in Tesco stores and distribution centres in 2013/14.

Find out more about how we measure our food waste

What's next

Extending our food surplus work

The nature of our business means that there is some surplus food that we have stocked but have not been able to sell. In the UK, we use the following hierarchy to manage surplus food and prevent it from going to landfill.

  1. We try to minimise surplus - for example by reducing to clear foods close to their expiry date
  2. If food cannot be sold, we offer it where possible to those in need by donating to charities
  3. We send all bakery waste to be converted into animal feed for livestock and our chicken fat and cooking oil is converted into biodiesel
  4. If these options are not available, we recover energy from food waste through anaerobic digestion or incineration

We have made significant progress on managing our surplus food. Our team in Poland have been donating surplus food from 31 stores to those in need. They donated 80 tonnes in the first 100 days.

In the UK we are donating surplus food from our grocery home shopping stores and from our fresh food distribution centres. In Ireland we have been trialling donating surplus food from our stores to local food surplus charities using a dedicated mobile phone app. In South Korea we have so far donated over 430,000 bags of bakery (equivalent to 151 tonnes) to those in need in the local community.

Putting surplus food to good use is a key focus for our teams across our operating markets in the coming year.