Business must do more to tackle food waste, says Tesco CEO Dave Lewis

15 Jun 2016

In a keynote speech at the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum in Cape Town today, Tesco CEO Dave Lewis encouraged business to do more to tackle food waste, and called on the wider industry to publish their food waste data in order to make meaningful progress.

Appealing for action across the food industry, Dave Lewis urged collaboration in tackling food waste right across the supply chain – in farms, distribution, in supermarket operations, and in customer’s own homes.

A key part of this agenda is transparency. Tesco has published data on food waste in its own operations since 2013, and the approach has proved instrumental in helping identify hotspots in order to tackle root causes.

Dave Lewis said:

“When I arrived at Tesco we were the only UK retail company to publish our food waste data.

“What the data shows is that it’s clear where we need to focus our efforts...nearly three years after we announced it, we are still the only UK retailer publishing our data.”

He called on companies, in the short term, to do more to redistribute their surplus edible food waste to people in need.

Earlier this year, Tesco pledged its commitment to redistribute all of their edible food waste from stores to charities by the end of 2017.

He told the audience:

"Tackling #foodwaste makes sense for business, it will help people and our planet, and it’s also the right thing to do."


Some of the actions Dave Lewis called for include:

  • Cutting time out of the supply chain to provide customers with fresher produce that lasts longer;
  • Widening specifications to take much more of the crop, maximising the amount of fresh produce Tesco can sell in stores. A new range of ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables, called ‘Perfectly Imperfect’, was launched by Tesco in February;
  • Publishing data on food waste to identify hotspots and tackle problems;
  • Redistributing edible food to people in need, with a commitment to give away all surplus edible food waste from Tesco stores to charity by the end of 2017; and
  • Introducing simpler to understand date coding, and ending ‘buy one, get one free’ offers on fruit and vegetables.

In his speech, Dave Lewis highlighted the fact that:

  • A third of the world’s food is wasted – 1.3 billion tonnes;
  • Almost a billion people – one in nine globally – go to sleep hungry;
  • Food loss and waste costs the world  $940 billion per year in unnecessary costs;
  • The healthiest food is often the most wasted – in the UK around 800,000 tonnes of fresh veg and salads are wasted annually; and
  • More than 13 billion ‘5 a day’ portions of fruit and vegetables were thrown away in 2012, enough to provide more than 7 million people with their ‘5 a day’ for a year.

To support delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Dave Lewis is the Chairman of “Champions 12.3”, a coalition of leaders from government, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, and civil society which will work to create political, business and social momentum to halve food loss and waste around the world by 2030. It aims to inspire action by leading by example, motivating others to reduce food waste and communicating the importance of food loss and waste reduction.

Notes to editors

  • Also speaking at the event were Zelda La Grange, former private secretary for Nelson Mandela and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO WPP.
  • More information about Champions 12.3 can be found here:
  • More information about The Consumer Goods Forum can be found here:

For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on 01707 918 701    
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