Tackling food waste
Managing food surplus and reducing food waste are increasingly important issues all over the world. According to the UN, one third of food supplies goes to waste globally each year. This puts a considerable pressure on the natural resources of the Earth, and is very alarming, as many in the local communities suffer from food poverty. Therefore, we consider reducing food waste one of our primary objectives, across the supply chain, from farm to fork.
We strive to reduce the amount of waste occurring during our operations, we collaborate with our suppliers and the producers to generate less waste across the supply chain, and we also support our customers so that they can reduce the amount of food waste in their own homes.
In October 2015, at an international conference focusing on this issue, we announced an ambitious goal: No food that can be eaten will go to waste at Tesco. In 2016 we committed to working with national governments and local charity partners so that by 2020 all our stores in Central Europe will offer food that cannot be sold anymore but is still fit for consumption to local charities to help feed people in need.
"We believe that no food that could be eaten should go to waste—and that is why we made the commitment to make sure that no food surplus goes to waste from our stores. We know that our customers, too, think it’s an important issue. Whenever food surplus is generated at Tesco stores, we commit to donate it to local charity organizations helping people in need" - said Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco Group.
The issue of food waste is too huge and serious to handle alone. In Hungary, we have been cooperating with the Hungarian Food Bank Association since 2007 to avoid the wasting of food surplus. In the first stages of the partnership, we donated mainly seasonal confectionery (Christmas candies, Easter sweets, etc.) as part of our contribution to supporting people in need. Since 2014, we have been gradually introducing the daily collection and dispatch of food surplus generated in our hypermarkets. Our colleagues in these stores collect the food surplus returned from the shop floor to the warehouses for the Food Bank partners, who then make sure that the packages are delivered to those in need as soon as possible. The basis for our cooperation is that Tesco's internal quality assurance system is stricter than the standards set by Hungarian consumer protection laws, and therefore it happens often that food that cannot be sold anymore but is still of suitable quality is taken off the shelves. That means that only food that is still fit for human consumption and within the expiry date indicated on the product label will be diverted to those in need, and our local partners receiving the donations also have to comply with strict rules concerning the transportation and delivery of the products.
Between September 2014 and July 2018, 150 of our stores in Hungary donated food worth nearly 6,5 billion HUF, which amounts to more than 13 848 tons of donations, equaling more than 34,5 million meals.
In partnership with our suppliers we work on to reduce food waste in the whole supply chain. That is why we started a pilot program in January 2017 named “Perfectly Imperfect” where we take vegetables and fruits whose shape, weight or size does not meet the regular, internal standards but are still of excellent quality and meet the requirements of food safety regulations. Selling this wonky looking but tasty fruits and veggies at a lower price help reduce food waste at the producers’ side.
Food that is not fit for human consumption but can be converted into animal feed does not go to waste either at Tesco. Regular donations go to animal shelters currently from 45 hypermarkets and 11 smaller stores. Since 2013, these stores have provided meat, milk, eggs, bakery products and vegetables for animal shelters and wildlife parks.
“Ever since the establishment of the Food Bank more than 13 years ago, we have been working to locate and collect food surplus still fit for consumption but close to its expiry date and set to be destroyed. We deliver this food free of charge to more than 300,000 people in need through 350 charitable organizations. Since our establishment, we have distributed 50,000 tons of food in total, steadily increasing the amount of food collected each year. Tesco has played a significant part in this since the beginning of our partnership, and has contributed to the success of our mission by providing more than 11,500 tons of food" Balázs Cseh, President of Food Bank concluded.