Tesco calls for more businesses to publish food waste data as amount of food wasted in Tesco is down 17%

Tesco today published its annual food waste data, revealing 63% more food was redistributed to charities, community groups, colleagues and animal feed.

The retailer halved the amount of food safe for human consumption going to energy recovery compared to last year (51% decrease) and is now 81% of the way toward its target that no food safe for human consumption goes to waste. 

Overall, this led to the amount of food going to waste in Tesco’s UK operations falling by 17% to 44,297 tonnes (0.45% sales) compared to the previous year.

Over 12 months, Tesco sold around 10 million tonnes of food in the UK. A small fraction - 77,184 tonnes – (0.78%) remained unsold. Of this total, 32,887 tonnes was redistributed and stopped from going to waste.

Tesco was the first UK retailer to publish its own operations data in 2013. The latest figures have been achieved through several approaches including the rolling out of Community Food Connection, where Tesco works with FareShare to donate surplus food from its stores to those in need. Tesco is now working with almost 7,000 charities and community groups and has donated the equivalent of over 60 million meals. 

Additional new measures included the introduction of ‘Colleague Shops’, which saw colleagues take surplus food. On occasions where surplus food has not been taken by charities or colleagues, surplus is turned into animal feed, keeping it in the food chain.

As well as upping the amount that goes to good causes, Tesco has also worked more closely with its suppliers. The supermarket’s commitment to take the whole crop from growers – including unexpected bumper crops caused by the weather – led to more good food used in its Perfectly Imperfect and Waste Not ranges. Surplus grapes were used to create Hyke, an innovative new gin

Tesco is also taking action to help their customers reduce food waste in the home. Customers reacted positively to Tesco’s decision to scrap best before dates from over 180 fruit and vegetable products, as it helps them keep perfectly good food for longer.

Tesco CEO, and Chairman of Champions 12.3, Dave Lewis said:

“Reducing food waste is a global challenge: one in nine people are going hungry whilst a third of the world’s food is wasted. This food waste has a huge environmental impact, creating unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.

"In 2013 Tesco set out to lead on reducing food waste globally and has committed to the Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, to halve global food waste by 2030.

"Publicly reporting food data is crucial to delivering on this ambition. Our food data shows we’re making progress in reducing food waste in our business. We set a challenging target that no food safe for human consumption would go to waste in our UK operations and we are now 81% of the way there.

"We call on other businesses to also report their food waste data; this is the only way that we’ll know whether the UK and the world is on course to reach SDG Target 12.3.”

Tesco also recently launched a community cookery school, the Tesco Community Cookery School with Jamie Oliver, to help community groups who receive food waste donations make the best use of that food. The programme will offer training to over 1,000 community volunteers through the year.

Notes to editors


  • Tesco will publish its latest food waste data in its annual report on Tuesday 14th May.
  • Tesco sets out its ambition to lead on reducing food waste globally and became the first uk retailer to publish own operations data in 2013.
  • Dave Lewis was invited to Chair Champions 12.3 in 2016.
  • Tesco committed in 2017 to going beyond SDG 12.3 and help halve food waste farm to fork in each of the markets in which they operate.
  • Tesco has not sent any food to landfill since 2009.

Champions 12.3

Tesco’s CEO, Dave Lewis, chairs a coalition of leaders from government, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, and civil society called Champions 12.3. This group is dedicated to accelerating progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030.

Champions 12.3 offers three recommendations for leaders to meet Target 12.3 by 2030:

  • Target: Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. Every country, major city and company involved in the food supply chain should set food loss and waste reduction targets consistent with Target 12.3 in order to ensure sufficient attention and focus.
  • Measure: What gets measured gets managed. The report champions governments and companies quantify and report publicly on food loss and waste and monitor progress over time through 2030.
  • Act: Impact only occurs if people act. Governments and companies should accelerate and scale up adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

At the Champions 12.3 annual conference in September 2018, Tesco made the following announcements:

  • 10 of the world’s largest food brands including Mars, Unilever and General Mills committed to halve their food waste by 2030, publish food waste data for their operations within the next 12 months and take concrete steps to reduce food losses and waste in the supply chain and in the homes of customers.
  • 27 of our largest Tesco suppliers - responsible for over half of our own label fresh food sales in the UK - published their data
  • Booker published their data for the first time.

In February 2017, Champions 12.3 approached the IGD and highlighted the need for transparency across the whole UK food and drink sector. Working with WRAP and the IGD we led the development of a set of principles that will allow every company to measure and publish their food waste data. The result was the UK Food Loss and Waste Roadmap: a commitment from the UK food industry to Target, Measure and Act on food waste.


For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on 01707 918 701     
We are a team of over 440,000 colleagues dedicated to serving customers a little better every day.

You may also like