If we want to ensure food security for humanity in the future, then curbing out food waste is essential. Tesco is taking steps in the right direction, agreeing to a deal to donate all unsold food from its stores to charity.
The food giant plans to eradicate all its food waste by 2017, rolling out several projects to achieve this goal. It started selling “wonky veg” boxes, to encourage consumers to buy “uglier” foods. They rolled out a 14-store pilot programme called the Community Food Connection which provided the equivalent of 50,000 meals to vulnerable people. Now, they’re rolling out the big guns, working with 5,000 local charities across the UK to donate all their unsold food.
According to figures published by the company 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at its stores and distribution centres across the country in 2015. This would be the equivalent of over 125,000,000 meals, if all the food is edible. Even if half of it is edible, that still brings a huge amount of meals which could go a long way, saving not only resources but also providing food to tens of thousands of people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
The project will roll out in 15 of the largest British cities, gradually spreading out to cover the entire country. Tesco has also created a platform that allows food retailers to liaise with staff and charities in the distribution of surplus food. Another partner is the food waste company FareShare. Together, they launched a digital open platform called FareShare FoodCloud. They encourage other retailers to join the FoodCloud, creating a nation-wide platform.
Tesco is not the first British retailer to start this type of project. Morrisons recently launched a similar project and is already implementing it, while Sainsburys has been working with local farms for a few years, giving away unsold food.
In very recent times, Western Europe is taking huge strides to limit food waste. Last year, France has basically outlawed wasting food, forcing its big retailers to give unsold items to charity.