Tesco Chief Urges Industry To Do More To Tackle Food Waste

In a speech at the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum in Cape Town yesterday Tesco’s Chief Executive Dave Lewis encouraged business to do more to tackle food waste, and called on the wider industry to publish their food waste data in order to make meaningful progress.

Appealing for action across the food industry, Lewis urged collaboration in tackling food waste right across the supply chain – in farms, distribution, in supermarket operations, and in customer’s own homes.

Tesco has published data on food waste in its own operations since 2013, an approach its says has proved instrumental in helping it identify hotspots in order to tackle root causes.  However, the amount of food waste generated by the supermarket increased to 59,400 tonnes last year – the equivalent of nearly 119 million meals – and around one in every 100 food products sold by Tesco.

Lewis said: “When I arrived at Tesco we were the only UK retail company to publish our food waste data. What the data shows is that it’s clear where we need to focus our efforts…nearly three years after we announced it, we are still the only UK retailer publishing our data.”

He called on companies, in the short term, to do more to redistribute their surplus edible food waste to people in need. Earlier this year, Tesco pledged its commitment to redistribute all of their edible food waste from stores to charities by the end of 2017.

He told the audience: “Tackling foodwaste makes sense for business, it will help people and our planet, and it’s also the right thing to do.”

Some of the actions Lewis called for included:

  • Cutting time out of the supply chain to provide customers with fresher produce that lasts longer;
  • Widening specifications to take much more of the crop, maximising the amount of fresh produce Tesco can sell in stores. A new range of ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables, called ‘Perfectly Imperfect’, was launched by Tesco in February;
  • Publishing data on food waste to identify hotspots and tackle problems;
  • Redistributing edible food to people in need, with a commitment to give away all surplus edible food waste from Tesco stores to charity by the end of 2017; and
  • Introducing simpler to understand date coding, and ending ‘buy one, get one free’ offers on fruit and vegetables.