Reducing food waste

Food waste

Leading in reducing food waste globally working with our producers and suppliers and helping the customers we serve to find ways to reduce food waste.

Tesco is one of the world’s largest retailers. We serve food to 50 million customers around the world, sourcing food from thousands of suppliers in more than 70 countries.

Given this reach, there are significant opportunities for us to reduce food waste globally across the value chain.

To identify these opportunities we pulled together an experienced team from across the business and engaged with external experts.

In our work so far, we have surveyed our farmers and suppliers, and are carrying out our most detailed food waste research to date with Tesco customers.

We have also opened a dialogue with key national and international bodies, academics, leading NGO and charity programmes.

This has helped us to build a better picture of where food waste occurs and where our current practices – and those of our suppliers and customers – are contributing to unnecessary food waste.

The 'Where food is wasted' infographic shows an overview of food waste for foods produced and consumed in the UK. This highlights that in addition to food waste in Tesco stores, waste mainly occurs in agriculture and the supply chain and with our customers. We know the shape of this distribution varies by market. For example, in our Asian markets the agriculture and supply chain food losses will be higher.

So what do we plan to do?

We are developing a core programme to tackle food waste in three key areas:

  1. Tesco operations
  2. Agriculture and supply chain
  3. Customers

This will be delivered through country plans in our businesses around the world. These plans are built on our core strategy but are tailored to be relevant to the waste agenda at a local level. Many offer opportunities to develop local leadership positions and good practice which we can share elsewhere.

In our own operations, we already have a number of programmes in place which enable us to reduce food waste in our stores and distribution centres. We are also developing a new measurement for the amount of food wasted in our operations which can be used consistently across all our markets and will allow us to track progress over time. We commit to publish baseline data on this by the end of the year.

To develop a clear understanding of what we can do in agriculture and the supply chain we are:

  • working with our colleagues in sourcing countries who deal directly with farmers
  • using our online networks with farming communities to conduct research and begin a dialogue with farmers

We are currently using these channels to identify examples of where our product specifications may be resulting in edible products going to waste and to find opportunities to prevent this happening.

Over the longer term we will build closer relationships with our producers and suppliers allowing for greater investment, support and collaboration on the causes of, and solutions to, food waste. As part of this we will also use our expertise to improve our order forecasting to our suppliers and producers, helping them to plan more effectively and reduce surplus in the supply chain.

To tackle household waste, we are working with partners including the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) to conduct customer research aimed at developing our understanding of the underlying causes of food waste in the home and how we can help our customers to waste less. As part of this work, we are working to improve how we display date codes on our products.

In addition, we are developing a total food waste measure for each of the food items most regularly sold in our stores. This will allow us to prioritise our efforts and track our progress in reducing the wastage of these products.

Taken together, this approach and the initiatives outlined provide a strong starting point for us to use our scale and reach throughout the value chain to lead in reducing food waste.





Matt Simister

Matt Simister
Commercial Director, Group Food
Action Team Leader: Reducing Food Waste

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