24 of Tesco’s largest suppliers commit to publishing their food waste data

Mark Little

Head of Food Sustainability, Sourcing and Waste Policy

20 Sep 2017

How our suppliers work with us to reduce food waste.

Reducing global food waste needs to be everyone’s responsibility. As the UK’s largest retailer, we’re proud to lead the way in helping our suppliers and customers reduce the food they throw away, but we can’t do this alone. We need all retailers, suppliers, producers and customers to join our commitment to halve food waste globally by 2030.

Suppliers publish food waste data

24 of our largest suppliers are joining us in publishing their food waste data to show how they have been reducing waste in their own operations. The data proves that little changes can make an incredible difference in saving food. We work with our suppliers to save food from farm to fork. We want to use all the food that our growers/farmers produce. We’ve widened our specifications to take as much as we can and our suppliers are also finding ways to save food waste.

Investing in food waste reduction

Gomez is Tesco’s longest serving fresh food supplier with over 50 years of partnership with us. Their relationship with Tesco gave them the confidence to invest over £2 million in a dedicated high-care produce facility. This has saved over 3,500 tonnes of pepper waste and over 1,000 tonnes of courgette and tomato waste. New products for customers have also come from this investment by Gomez.

Suppliers working together

Suppliers coming together with Tesco also help to reduce waste and create new products. Long term supplier partners Bakkavor and Greencell have worked together to utilise more of the avocado crop. 1,000 tonnes of avocado, that has minor visual defects, is now pulped and turned into Guacamole. 

Taking more of the crop is beneficial to both the grower/farmer, supplier and the customer. Organic Farm Foods have been supplying organic fruits for 25 years. They supply Tesco with our Organic Apples and to meet demand planted dedicated orchards for customers. Though as organic they have a limited ability to protect fruits from pests. This means some of the apples do not make the specifications for supermarkets. However, working with the organic dairy Yeo Valley, rather than discarding lower quality apples they're now used in apple & custard flavoured yogurt, called ‘Left-Yeovers’.

Food to people who need it

Where food has remained un-sold either at the farm or in stores it is now given to charity organisations. No food that’s good to eat goes to waste. At Tesco, we have our Community Food Connection that supplies charities and community groups with food that's left-over in our stores and distribution centres. Many of our suppliers also give their surplus food to charity. Kerry Foods supply chilled ready meals, cooked meats and dairy spreads to Tesco. They formed a partnership with Heart to Hand & FareShare charities to make the best possible use of any surplus food, and help those in need. They’ve donated 250 tonnes of surplus product to Heart to Hand to date. Since joining up with FareShare in November 2015, Kerry Foods have donated 19 tonnes of surplus food, equating to more than 250,000 meals.

Protecting our precious food

How we transport and protect our products is vital to saving food from going to waste. Packaging is key to protecting food and keeping it fresh for customers to consume.

Hilton Food Group supply fresh beef and lamb to Tesco. Traditionally all Beef and Lamb Steaks and Lamb Chops were packaged in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). This method of packaging would give the product a shelf life of 6-8 days. Hilton carried out trials to see if products packed within a vacuum would give a new shelf life. 10-14 days was achieved! This means a reduction of waste in stores and in people’s homes. Customers also responded positively to the new and consistent freshness of the meat.

Saving food in the home is also vital. Customers tell us that they'd like help to stop throwing away food. Moy Park is one of the UK's Top Ten food companies and supplies Tesco with a variety of pre-packed fresh and frozen products. They made a subtle change, to help customers in the home, to their cooked chicken packaging. Customers said that once opened the meat not used would dry out and become unusable. Moy Park made the packaging re-sealable. This means that 1,172 tonnes of Tesco cooked chicken no longer wasted annually. That's the equivalent of 250,000 chickens!

A lot of people to feed

It’s little changes like these throughout our supplier, distribution and stores that's seen food waste reduced at Tesco. Publishing food waste data is the start of how we learn about what is wasted. Only then can we make changes. I welcome our largest suppliers joining us in publishing their food waste date.

There is more to do but if we’re to feed 8.5 billion people by 2030, then when it comes to reducing food waste and using all the food the world produces, then truly; Every Little Helps.

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