24 September 2020
In partnership with Mail Metro Media, we’re sharing stories of how Tesco and our supplier partners are tackling some of the key environmental issues associated with food production.
Tesco is working with suppliers and WWF to make the nation’s shopping more sustainable
Few of us think of the environmental impact of food as we tuck into our dinner. Yet food production is at the heart of many environmental issues. It is responsible for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, 60% of biodiversity loss and 70% of fresh water usage.
“Our food system relies on nature but the rise of our Western diet – high in meat, dairy and ultra-processed food – is inefficient and resource intensive,” explains Liam Walsh, sustainable diets manager at the WWF.
“Reducing the environmental impact of our diet is crucial if we’re to relieve pressure on nature and ensure food security into the future.”
“Supermarkets can play a really important role. Leveraging close relationships with suppliers and shoppers, they can make a real difference to how food is produced and consumed.”
It’s for this reason that WWF is working in partnership with Tesco to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket.
Laurence Webb is a responsible sourcing manager at Tesco. “Through our partnership with WWF, we’re tracking twenty key metrics that cover seven critical environmental issues in the food system. These range from reducing methane emissions associated with cattle, for example through feed additives, to ensuring the water resources where our fruit and vegetables are grown are managed sustainably”.
All this work behind the scenes is helping to make our favourite foods more sustainable. Take the classic cottage pie. “We’ve made lots of changes to help make the key ingredients that go into this family favourite a little greener,” says Laurence. “For example, we’ve been working with our potato supplier Branston to find smart ways to reduce waste in the potato supply chain.”
‘As the UK’s largest retailer, we have a responsibility to lead on this issue’
Tesco connected Branston with its ready meal supplier Samworth Brothers, so potatoes that are the wrong shape or size to be sold in stores are instead sent to Samworth to be used in the mash on its cottage pies, saving 30,000 tonnes of potatoes every year.
“Or if customers are making their own meals at home,” Laurence continues, “we have taken steps to make sure the meat they use is more sustainable. For example, livestock such as chickens and pigs are often fed on soy, which can be linked to deforestation, so we have set challenging targets committing to zero deforestation.”
Tesco is on track to achieve net zero deforestation through certification by 2020, but knows there is more to do. It has set itself an additional target to ensure the soy in its supply chain comes from regions that are verified as deforestation-free by 2025.
For anyone trying to eat a little less meat, Tesco is investing in new and affordable plant-based ranges and has increased plant-based protein products by 46% since last year. “We’ve developed both plant-based alternatives and a special ‘Meat & Veg’ range, where meat is expertly combined with vegetables to create products that are half-and-half,” says Laurence.
“As someone who is passionate about the environment, it makes me feel so proud to be a part of this effort to protect the planet for future generations, and provide customers with good quality, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable way” says Laurence.
Liam at WWF agrees. “Despite coming from very different sectors, we share a common ambition – that people should be able to enjoy food that’s affordable, healthy and good for the planet.”
Make swaps to save the planet
There are lots of easy ways you can make your favourite meals more environmentally friendly. Eating more vegetable proteins such as lentils and beans, and less meat, is better for your health and the health of our planet.
Why not try some of the simple swaps below?