Reducing food waste

Colleague carrying groceries

Why it matters

Tackling food waste is important to Tesco for four big reasons. First and foremost, our customers care about it. Research by the UK Waste Reduction Action Programme (WRAP) suggests that the average British family with children throws away £700 worth of food each year. Second, food waste adds significant costs to our business, so it is important that we drive down waste in our own operations. Third, at a time when many people are suffering from food poverty it is unacceptable for any business to be wasting food unnecessarily. Finally, food waste puts unnecessary pressure on land and natural resources, and results in additional greenhouse gas emissions, so by addressing the problem we can reduce our environmental impact.

Our approach

We have a responsibility to fight food waste in our operations and a shared responsibility to do this from farm to fork. We’re taking action, making lots of little changes, to help our customers and work with suppliers, to reduce food waste, save money and also help feed people in need by donating surplus food from our stores.

UK operations

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. In the UK we divert all surplus fresh food, including meat and produce, from our distribution centers and online grocery centres to support food redistribution charity FareShare. 
  3. We have also started the roll out of a significant project that will ensure we can donate surplus food from stores – the Community Food Connection. The Community Food Connection project is being run in partnership with UK charity FareShare, utilising the technology platform developed by FoodCloud, an Irish social enterprise. The programme allows stores to alert local charities and community groups to how much surplus food is available at the end of each day, through the FareShare FoodCloud app. Charities simply respond by text message to confirm that they will collect the surplus food. We are looking to roll this project out to all stores by the end of 2017.
  4. We send all bakery waste to be converted into animal feed for livestock and our chicken fat and cooking oil is converted into bio-diesel.
  5. 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.


We have a global commitment to tackling food waste wherever it occurs.  All of our Central European markets are donating surplus food to local foodbank partners. We have also conducted research with our customers across Central Europe to understand how we can best help them reduce food waste in their homes. In Malaysia and Thailand we are planning trials to donate surplus food from stores.

We are keen to show leadership on the issue at a global level, which is why Dave Lewis, our Chief Executive, has agreed to chair a coalition of leaders from government, business, research institutions and civil society. The coalition will be dedicated to accelerating progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal Food Waste 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 (including post-harvest losses) by 2030.

Our performance

In May 2014 we became the first UK retailer to publish data about food waste in our own operations for a full financial year. To ensure we are open and honest about what we do, we continue to publish our own UK operations food waste data annually.  

2015/16 59,400 tonnes
2014/15 57,100 tonnes
2013/14 57,100 tonnes

These figures refer to our UK operations only and are independently assured by KPMG. Further information on how we calculate these can be found here.

At a glance

  • We are the only UK retailer to publish data about food waste from our own operations.
  • We ended Buy One Get One Free offers on fruit and vegetables in the UK in April 2014.
  • We are working with suppliers to ensure that we minimise waste on the farm, for example we introduced our ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range which uses parts of the crop that previously fell outside our specifications.
  • To give us greater insight into where waste occurs from farm to fork we developed food waste profiles for 25 of our most frequently purchased food products. We can use this insight to develop targeted action plans and to identify those areas where we should prioritise our activity.
  • We announced the UK nationwide roll out of Community Food Connection with FareShare FoodCloud, which will redirect surplus food providing millions of meals to charity by end of 2017.
  • All of our Central European markets are now donating surplus food to local foodbank partners and we are planning trials in Malaysia and Thailand.


Latest updates

No Opportunity Wasted

19 Feb 2014

Expert Advisory Panel

21 Oct 2013