Tesco has revealed that 56,580 tonnes of food were wasted in its stores and distribution centres in the UK in 2013/14.
This represents less than 1% of the number of food products sold in Tesco stores across the year but the company has stated it wants to reduce food waste further.
The statistics, published in Tesco’s society review 2014, follow the retailer’s decision in October last year to reveal the 28,500 tonnes of food waste arisings that were generated at its stores and distribution centres for the first half of 2013.
Of the total amount of food wasted in 2013/14, the data found 41% derived from bakery products, 21% from produce and 8% from dairy. Convenience products also made up 8% of the waste, while meat, fish and poultry products made up 5% of the total waste. Groceries made up 4% and frozen items just 2% of the waste.
Commenting on why it has published the figures, Tesco states in the report: “We do not just want to reduce food waste in our own operations. We have a shared responsibility to reduce food waste across the value chain wherever it occurs – in fields, farms, distribution networks and in our homes…That is why we have published new data, including externally assured statistics on waste within our own operations. By sharing this information we have added important evidence to the debate on how to tackle food waste. We are now taking action to tackle hotspots across the value chain and are donating surplus food to those in need.”
Discussing the challenges ahead Tesco added: “The challenge now is to innovate to reduce this figure further and share best practice across all our operating markets. We are rolling out a blueprint of best practice worldwide. This provides clear guidance on handling produce, store ordering and other waste reduction procedures. In specific areas where the waste figures are high we have targeted action plans. For example we have re-designed our in-store bakeries so that less bread is displayed at any one time and is replenished more frequently when demand is high.”
One way it is targeting these specific areas is through the development of food waste profiles for 25 of its most frequently purchased food products.
This includes potatoes, cheese, lamb and grapes.
It assessed where the waste occurred in the supply chain from field losses, processing losses, retail waste and consumer waste.
Three of the four products highlighted in the report had higher percentages for consumer waste with 39%, 9% and 13% of losses occurring in potatoes, cheese and grapes respectively. Lamb, on the other hand, has 13% of its losses in processing with 5% wasted by consumers.
The decision to publish its food waste figures was a first for a major UK retailer and has since seen Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and The Co-op pledge to reveal the amount of food they collectively throw away each year. The pledge is part of an initiative called a ‘Better Retailing Climate’ which is led by the British Retail Consortium – the trade association for the UK retail industry.