The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that approximately one third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. At Tesco, we think it’s simply not right that good food goes to waste when one in nine people are going hungry each night. From an environmental perspective, food loss and waste is causing around 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2016 we set ourselves the target that no food that’s safe for human consumption will go to waste from our UK retail operations. We have introduced a series of industry leading initiatives to meet this target, including offering surplus food safe for humans to local charities and community groups.
We believe it’s important for every food company to be transparent about the levels of waste within their own operations, so we can identify hotspots and take targeted action together to reduce waste. We were the first retailer in the UK to publish data on food waste and loss, and we are calling on the whole food industry to start measuring and publishing data. For 2018/19 we have already published own operations food surplus and data for UK Tesco Stores, Ireland, Central European Businesses and, most recently, Booker.
Working with suppliers
In 2013 we made a commitment to help reduce food waste on farms, in-store and at home. We have a shared responsibility to reduce waste from farm to fork. Our work with suppliers includes broadening our produce specifications and helping to manage bumper crops. In partnership with suppliers, we are always looking for ways to help our customers reduce food waste and save money too. For example, we have removed best before dates on over 180 fruit and vegetable products, such as apples and cabbage, helping customers to keep perfectly good food for longer.
Following a joint commitment made in 2017, 27 of our largest Tesco suppliers have now published data on food waste for their own operations. We are delighted that 10 of our largest branded suppliers including Mars, Unilever and General Mills have also committed to halve food waste by 2030, publish food waste data for their operations within 12 months and take concrete steps to reduce food waste in the supply chain and in the homes of our customers.
At a global level, 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 food waste by 2030.