Tesco reveals food waste arisings in UK first

Tesco has become the first major UK retailer to publish its food waste arisings which show that 28,500 tonnes of food waste were generated at its stores and distribution centres in the first half of 2013.

Tesco generated 28,500 tonnes of food waste in the first half of 2013
Tesco generated 28,500 tonnes of food waste in the first half of 2013

The data also shows that 68% of bagged salad is wasted along with almost half of the bakery items. However, the supermarket said not all of this food is wasted in-store with 35% of wasted bagged salad occurring in consumers homes.

In a bid to tackle this, Tesco has announced a number of initiatives to reduce food waste across the supply chain, including ending multi-buys on large bags of salad and developing mix and match promotions and removing display until dates from fresh fruit and vegetables. Smaller cases will also be used in stores and 600 bakeries have been rearranged to better manage stock control and reduce waste.

  • Tescos figures also revealed:

  • 40% of apples are wasted, with just over a quarter of that waste occurring in the home. Tesco is involved in trials with growers to reduce pests and disease.
  • Just under half of bakery items are wasted. Tesco has changed how bakeries are run in over 600 stores to minimise waste.
  • A quarter of grapes are wasted between the vine and the fruit bowl, with the majority of that waste happening in the home. Tesco is working with producers to trial new varieties of grapes that have a longer life.
  • A fifth of all bananas are wasted and one in ten bananas bought by customers end up in the bin. Tesco has introduced a new state-of-the-art temperature control system to ensure bananas last longer.

The findings come two weeks after research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) suggested that the UKs grocery and food manufacturing sector produced 6.9 billion worth of food and packaging waste every year (see letsrecycle.com story).

Display until dates are being removed from fresh fruit and vegetables in Tesco stores
Display until dates are being removed from fresh fruit and vegetables in Tesco stores

Commenting on the action taken Matt Simister, Tesco commercial director of food group, said there is no quick-fix single solution and little changes can help to make a difference. He added: Were playing our part too and making changes to our processes and in store. Ending multi-buy promotions on large packs of bagged salads is one way we can help, but this is just the start and well be reviewing what else we can do. Were working with our suppliers to try to cut waste at all stages of the journey from farm to fork.


Chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke will give an update on progress made on food waste in an address to the Global Green Forum in Copenhagen today (October 21). This comes after Tesco announced in May that food waste would be one of its three Big Ambitions (see letsrecycle.com story).

In his speech, Mr Clarke is set to say: When I said earlier this year that Tesco wanted to lead in reducing food waste I wasnt just talking about reducing food waste in our own operations. I meant making a difference from the farmers field to the customers fridge and beyond. We are the worlds third largest retailer, so clearly we have a responsibility to minimise the food wasted in our stores. However, we sit at the heart of the value chain and this gives us a crucial vantage point and a shared responsibility to act far beyond the doors of our stores.

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Were using this insight to drive innovation. Were tackling this [food waste] by focusing on 25 of the most frequently purchased food items bought by our customers. We know small reductions in food waste will rapidly make a big difference in reducing overall waste levels. Over the last six months, my team of experts have put together food waste footprints from the farmers field to the customers bin. Weve worked with a range of suppliers and experts across the globe, including WRAP. The output is really simple, but it gives great steer on where to act.

Tescos approach was welcomed by Richard Swannell, director of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) who said collaborative action is essential if food waste is to be successfully reduced and the financial and environmental benefits of doing so reaped.

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