Reducing food waste
Our food waste hierarchy
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:
- We try to minimise surplus, for example by reducing to clear foods close to their expiry date.
- If food cannot be sold, we offer it where possible to those in need by donating to charities. In the UK we divert all surplus fresh food, including meat and produce, from our distribution centres and online grocery centres to support food redistribution charity FareShare. This amounts to the equivalent of seven million meals a year of surplus food, which FareShare uses to support over 1,700 community groups across the UK. In Ireland we are working with an organisation called FoodCloud so that charities can collect surplus food directly from our stores.
- We send all bakery waste to be converted into animal feed for livestock and our chicken fat and cooking oil is converted into biodiesel.
- If these options are not available, we recover energy from food waste through anaerobic digestion or incineration. We have achieved zero food waste direct to landfill since 2009.
Analysing our own operations
The first step to long-term change is greater transparency. That's why in May 2014 we became the first UK retailer to publish data about food waste in our own operations for a full financial year. These were independently assured by KPMG and show that during 2013/14, 56,580 tonnes of food were wasted in Tesco stores and distribution centres in the UK.
This represents less than 1% of the number of food products sold in our stores over this period. We have worked hard to reduce waste to this level - reducing waste makes commercial sense. The challenge now is to innovate to reduce this figure further and share best practice across all our operating markets.
We are rolling out a blueprint of best practice worldwide. This provides clear guidance on handling produce, store ordering and other waste reduction procedures.
In specific areas where the waste figures are high we have targeted action plans. For example we have re-designed our in-store bakeries so that less bread is displayed at any one time and is replenished more frequently when demand is high.