Tesco Leads the Fight Against Food Waste

Tesco Leads the Fight Against Food Waste

In 2019, the Tesco retail chain has already managed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal of reducing the amount of food waste it produces to half. At the BLF CSR Summit, Tesco will share its experience twice: in a discussion titled The Circular Economy vs. Retail Chains and during a separate round-table discussion.

Reducing the amount of food waste is a global challenge, even more so in a world where one in ten people go to bed hungry and where one third of the global food production ends up as waste. According to statistics provided by the European Commission, the European Union alone produces 88 million tons of waste every year. Food loss is responsible for approximately 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. To address this, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is reducing the amount of food waste to half by 2030.

“Tesco was the first and only company in Slovakia that published its data on food waste in 2017. We are still the only company that regularly measures the amount of food waste produced. Tesco Slovakia can proudly proclaim that we have already achieved the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 – halving the amount of food waste we produce. And all it took was two years. During this short period, Tesco Slovakia reduced the amount of food waste in its stores and centers by an astonishing 52%. Achieving this goal 11 years before the UN-set deadline is a globally unique feat. As a company, we are incredibly proud of the work of all our colleagues who helped us achieve this excellent result,” explains Veronika Bush, Head of Communications and Campaigns at Tesco Slovakia.

The main change that helped Tesco reduce the amount of food waste was its optimization of internal processes, with the goal of producing as little food surplus as possible. If there is any, the company donates it to people in need. Last year, Tesco donated 1,792 tons of food to the Food Bank of Slovakia and local charitable organizations, which represents a 211% increase from 2017.

“Most Tesco stores in Slovakia donate their surplus food to people in need through the Food Bank of Slovakia, with 143 of the total 150 already participating. Our goal is to have all stores participate by 2020. A food donation project is the best thing a food chain can do in order to help people in need. We are very happy that Tesco’s partnership with the Food Bank of Slovakia has helped us donate more than 3,000 tons of food so far, which is almost 6.2 million portions of hot meals,” adds Veronika Bush.

According to Tesco, food waste is a topic that can only be solved by cooperating throughout the whole supply chain. “Food Waste is a society-wide problem that we won’t be able to solve by ourselves. That’s why we also want other companies to adopt this topic and measure the amount of food waste they produce in their operations. Only by doing this can we improve the way how tackle this complex problem,” states Veronika Bush.

One example of how Tesco helps eliminate the food waste created by its suppliers is its Perfectly Imperfect range of fruit and vegetables. This prevents fruit and vegetables with unusual shapes or sizes from being simply thrown out by their producers. Since the range has a broader definition of suitable products, they can be offered to customers at discount prices. Depending on the season, as much as 70% of these products come from Slovak suppliers.

However, most food waste still comes from households. To combat this, Tesco has introduced a new way of reducing household food waste – a series of specialized workshops on waste-free cooking. Naturally, the first workshops were attended by Tesco co-workers. Throughout 2019, the chef Jaroslav Ertl will be presenting tips and recipes for waste-free cooking. “Statistics show that households are the main contributor of food waste. That’s one of the reasons why – as one of the biggest private employers in Slovakia – we came up with an interesting form of educating our colleagues. We believe that they will make use of these tips on how to reduce food waste at home and share them with their friends and family. We will be glad if as many households as possible – counting both our colleagues and our customers – participate in our initiative,” concludes Veronika Bush.

You can find out more about Tesco and its fight against food waste here:

Central European Food Waste Data 2018/19

Electronic manual: How to Successfully Combat Food Waste

Online training on how to combat food waste