Introduce mandatory food waste reporting, says Tesco

UK supermarket Tesco has called on the government to introduce mandatory food waste reporting for food retailers after a report published today (24 September) has suggested that the lack of data on progress towards reducing food waste could prevent the UK from achieving the UN SDG 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030.

A Tesco supermarket

According to the report, published by Champions 12.3, a cross-sector coalition of groups dedicated to achieving the SDG 12.3, 156 of the largest food companies have committed to reducing food waste, but less than a third are publishing their annual food waste data.

Tesco, however, has forged ahead in disclosing its food waste figures – the supermarket giant was the first UK retailer to publish food waste data in 2013, and is now pushing for increased transparency across all retailers, calling on the government to introduce mandatory food waste reporting.

Publishing its data for the seventh year, Tesco has announced today that 27 of its own brand suppliers, accounting for more than 50 per cent of Tesco’s fresh food sales, have published data for the second year running. 11 of the company’s branded suppliers, including Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Nestle, have also published their food waste data, nine of which have done so for the first time this year.

Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO and Chair of Champions 12.3, said: “The case for reducing food waste is indisputable. One third of the world’s food is wasted whilst one in nine people go hungry. If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. We cannot delay, we must act now.

“A lot of food companies have pledged to tackle food waste, but without transparency it will not be able to judge if they are delivering on their commitment. Publishing food waste data is vital and must be mandatory if the UK is to achieve SDG 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030.

“The government has indicated it will introduce mandatory reporting and we call on them to do this urgently.”

Tesco’s food waste efforts

Tesco was ranked the top supermarket for food waste prevention in a ‘Food Waste Scorecard’ produced by Feedback, a charity campaigning to transform the global food system.

Whilst Tesco came out on top, the ranking found that Waitrose was the worst-performing supermarket chain, providing no data on its food waste and redistributing only small amounts of surplus food.

Although Tesco’s food waste figures actually increased by 9.3 per cent in 2026/17, the amount of food that the supermarket redistributed to community schemes rose by 148 per cent. This comes as a result of the chain’s Community Food Connection programme, which uses the FoodCloud app from food waste charity FairShare to link Tesco stores with local community groups and charities.

The supermarket’s food waste prevention initiatives also include the scrapping of 180 ‘best before’ dates from fruit and vegetables, as it has been shown that confusion over when produce should be thrown away can lead to edible food being wasted. Tesco has also relaxed standards on ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, expanding its ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range to reduce the amount of edible food thrown away due to aesthetic requirements.

The supermarket has now halved the amount of edible food going to waste since last year and has donated over 77 million meals from surplus food to local charities.

Tesco has also signed up to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, an initiative from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to encourage businesses to monitor and reduce their food waste.

WRAP published a progress report for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap yesterday (23 September), revealing that businesses using the roadmap’s resources have saved a combined total of 53,000 tonnes of food.

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