How we calculate the food waste figure


We believe no food that could be eaten should be wasted and as part of our commitment to reducing food waste from farm to fork we are the only UK retailer to publish independently assured food waste data for our own operations. We will continue to do this annually. We publish our data to help us provide greater transparency, analyse where waste has occurred and to help us develop programmes across our stores to find ways to reduce this level of waste.

Our food waste data for 2015/16 shows that 59,400 tonnes of food went to waste, primarily in our stores which is equivalent to 1% of the number of food products we sold in our stores over the same period.

The food waste figure shows a net increase of 4 per cent on last year. The benefit of collecting these data is that it allows us to look at what is being wasted across different categories in our stores. Importantly we have actually seen a decrease in some categories including a 2 per cent reduction in produce.

Two categories where the data have shown an increase are in Bakery and Beers, Wines and Spirits. We are constantly trying to improve the recording of our data, to gain greater insight, and this year we believe we have built the most accurate picture ever of where food waste has occurred in our business. In Bakery in particular we believe by sharpening the way we record food waste at the store level we have improved our understanding of why waste has occurred and through this information we are able to find opportunities to reduce waste further. The data have highlighted that waste is high in the In Store Bakery (ISB) part of the category and we have therefore developed a plan to look at our In Store Bakery waste. The plan includes more accurate production planning and introducing improved processes and control in ranging consistent with the rest of the store – all of which will help reduce waste.

When it comes to bakery we also send unsold bread to animal feed. Some experts do not count food that goes to animal feed as food waste, for example some industry figures for food waste do not include bakery that is sent to animal feed. However, we do record it as waste because while food that goes to animal feed is put to good use this is not what the food was originally designed for. When it comes to Beers, Wines Spirits the majority of this increase is due to the clearance of discontinued and deranged stock from the business.

The power of reporting and analysing our food waste data is that it allows us to find out where waste is occurring and develop plans to tackle it. We already have many plans in place to address waste in our own operation and importantly this year we have invested in a nationwide rollout of Community Food Connection with FareShare FoodCloud, which will redirect surplus food providing millions of meals of Tesco surplus food to charity by the end of 2017.

Our food waste reduction work is not just confined to our stores and we have made great progress with our suppliers and helping customers to reduce waste in the home. We are confident that despite the small increase in our waste this year we have the right plans in place to see a reduction in future years and are proud of the work we have already done to redirect surplus food to provide millions of meals for those in need.

Scope and Definitions

The methodology outlined below is used to calculate the total tonnes of food wasted in our UK operations in the full Tesco financial year 2015/16. The information provided is in conformance with the (soon-to-be-released) Food Loss and Waste Accounting Standard (FLW Standard). (1)


The published figure represents the food wasted in our full financial year 2015/2016. This year this includes 52 weeks, from 1st March 2015 to 27th February 2016 inclusive, compared to 53 weeks in our previous financial year.

Store Location and Type


The scope of this calculation covers our entire UK retail operations. This means that all food waste generated in stores, including those in petrol stations, in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is included. Waste generated at our depots is also included.

Food waste arising in restaurants owned by Tesco UK are out of scope.

The calculation only covers our operations. Therefore, waste arising at our suppliers’ sites is not included.

Food Waste Definition

Material types: The scope of the calculation includes food waste and associated inedible parts.

Destinations: The definition of food waste is based on that of the UN FAO: food that was intended for human consumption, but is removed from the human food chain is considered to be food waste, even if it is directed to non-human food use, such as animal feed.

Therefore, bakery waste sent to animal feed is included in the total waste tonnage. On the other hand, food donated to FareShare is not considered to be food waste. Packaging waste is excluded.

Food Categories

All food categories sold at Tesco are included in the scope. (2)

During the calculations all non-food items are removed from our waste data. The following product categories are out of scope and therefore excluded from the calculations:

  • Depot categories:
    • Hardware
    • Health & Beauty
    • Horticulture
    • Household
    • Unallocated (all items are paper goods)
    • News/Mags/Other
    • Clothing
    • Pharmacy

In addition to the Categories listed above, the following products were excluded:

  • All products within the Health, Beauty & Wellness Category except baby food.
  • All products in the Household and Petcare category except food items.
  • All petcare products in the Grocery category.
  • Plants and Flowers Department in the Produce Category.
  • Some individual products were excluded in other Categories where they were clearly not food, for example: books.
Other Exclusions

During the FY 2014/15 we outsourced the production of bakery products to Euphorium Bakery. The waste arising is no longer in scope as this arises at a supplier’s site. As a result of outsourcing bakery production, food waste generated at the Euphorium site was excluded from our total food waste tonnage.

It is not possible to identify waste that has been displaced from stores to Euphorium, therefore the data cannot be rebaselined to allow for better year-on-year comparison. Production waste arising at the Euphorium plant is disclosed below to enable a more complete comparison of the data.

Financial year Euphorium Production Waste (tonnes)
14/15 980
15/16 1,160

(1) More information available here.

(2) United Nations Central Production Classifications 2.1 Divisions 21 – 24

Data Sources

In order to calculate the amount of food wasted each year we record the following data in our stores and depots.

Retail waste: This dataset contains the number of retail units wasted and the total value (£) of such waste per item, split by waste type –

  • DAM waste: products that are damaged in store, whether on the shop floor or in storage
  • OOC waste: Products that exceed the ‘Best before’ or ‘Use by’ date and are removed from shelves.

Depot waste: This dataset contains the number of depot units wasted and the total value (£) of such waste per item. Depot units differ from retail units as these contain several retail units (for example a pallet or a carton of individual packs). The number of retail units per depot unit is also provided in the dataset and is used to calculate the total retail units per item. 

Depot waste figures are reported as a mixture of positive and negative totals. Negative figures are ‘losses’, i.e. waste. Positive figures are single items that have been retrieved from wasted packs (e.g.
individual cartons retrieved from a broken case). The total waste per item is the sum of losses and gains multiplied by minus one, in order to align this data with other datasets.

Product data: This dataset contains the contents weight and the packaged weight per item. Note that where duplicates are found, a conservative estimate is taken and the highest weight is used.

Self-scan data: This dataset contains the packaged weight of items as measured in store self-scan tills. This data is used where product data from the source above is not available. Note that where duplicates are found, a conservative estimate is taken and the highest weight is used.

FareShare: The dataset contains the tonnage of food redistributed to FareShare by food category.

Range Reset data: This dataset contains data for range reset items scanned as waste in store. During this financial year, we have been removing from shelf and donating these to charity as part of our range review. It is assumed that all range reset food removed from shelf was donated to charity, this assumption was justified through a materiality assessment.


The bullet points below explain how we have calculated our total food waste tonnage for the full year 2015/16.

  • Included in the scope of our calculation is any food that has not been sold in our stores because it is past its best before or use by date or has been damaged. The non-food categories mentioned above are therefore removed at this stage.
  • Range reset data is subtracted from store wasted units as all these items were donated to charity for human consumption.
  • The number of units wasted per item is converted into a weight measured in tonnes by combining DAM, OOC and depot waste data with product content weights or self-scan data*.
  • We perform a ‘bottom up’ calculation from the waste tonnages for individual products (e.g. Gala Apples), to the commercial food category (e.g. Produce), to our entire UK operations.
  • Waste tonnages are added to obtain totals by category and for our entire UK operations.
  • We used this calculation method for 84% of the waste products (by weight) from our own operations – in our depots and within our stores.
  • The remaining 16% of waste by weight (and 24% of total units wasted and down from 53% in the FY 2014/15) occurs in products that do not have a standard weight on their pack - this could include items such as baguettes in our bakery or food in our deli counters. The following steps are taken to select the best estimate:
    1. Product content weights are checked category by category and are marked as requiring adjustment where the content weight is missing or if it is high or low compared to the category average.
    2. If adjustment is required, packaged weights are selected where available and if appropriate according to expert judgement.
    3. For all items with no weight data available, items are checked on a sub-category basis and either the category or sub-category average is used based on expert judgement.
    4. For the Bakery category, primary data collection was necessary to obtain average weights for several sub-groups.

In order to minimise the risk associated with such estimates, categories with the largest number of waste items are prioritised and checked in more detail as these have the greatest impact on the total waste (Bakery and Produce). In addition, within each category, the products with the highest number of wasted units are checked manually one-by-one as these can also have a significant impact on the total waste tonnage.

Donations to charity through our FareShare initiative that were also accounted for in the total waste tonnage calculated above are deducted as FareShare redistributes surplus food to community groups to provide meals to those in need. Note that this does not include Range Reset donations to FareShare and the Trussell Trust as these are removed from store waste data earlier in the calculation. Donations from our chilled depots to FareShare and Company Shop are also excluded as these are not accounted for in the depot waste datasets.

* It is assumed that 1 L is equivalent to 1 Kg where product content weights are listed as volumes.

Restatement of food waste figures

We have recalculated our total food waste tonnage for financial years 13/14 and 14/15 in order to account for better understanding of donations data and additional depot waste data becoming available. The recalculated figures are shown in the table below.

Financial year  Total Food Waste (tonnes)
FY14/15 57,100
FY13/14 57,100

Download KPMG's Independent Assurance Statement