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Supermarkets produce just 1.3 per cent of all UK food waste

New figures released by the British Retail Consortium show that the seven major UK supermarkets produced just 1.3 per cent of all UK food waste in 2013.

New figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have revealed that the seven major UK supermarkets produced just 1.3 per cent of all UK food waste in 2013.

The ‘first ever combined retail food waste figures’, collated by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and released yesterday (19 January) by the BRC, show that the supermarket chains Asda, the Co-operative Food, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Waitrose (which make up 87.3 per cent of the UK grocery market) produced 200,000 tonnes of food waste at their supermarkets and depots. This is the equivalent of 1.3 per cent of the estimated 15 million tonnes thrown away in the UK every year.

According to BRC, this figure shows that ‘contrary to popular belief... very little food waste comes from supermarkets’. Indeed, WRAP estimates that UK householders are the largest producers of food waste, accounting for nearly half of all food waste arisings (7.1 million tonnes) a year.

Retail sector reducing food waste arisings

The full retail figures, which will be reported in detail in BRC’s ‘A Better Retailing Climate’ report (set for publication on 29 January 2015), also reportedly show that there was a 10 per cent reduction in food and drink waste by grocery retailers and manufacturers between 2007 and 2012. This has been achieved in part through targets set by WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment, employee education programmes, sending edible, surplus food to redistribution schemes, and working with farmers and producers to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture.

The BRC has said that retailers will continue to ‘work hard to reduce food waste’ and work in partnership with government and the food industry to tackle ‘the big targets in the supply chain and waste in the home’.

It has added that it will continue to report on the supermarkets’ progress on an annual basis.

‘Focus needs to be on the supply chain and the home’

Andrew Opie, BRC Director of Food and Sustainability, said: "Our members are pleased to introduce new levels of transparency into the supply chain and [these] figures tell a positive story about the vast efforts grocery retailers have made to reduce their food waste to only 1.3 per cent of the total. At the same time we all need to continue to focus on where we can make the biggest reductions in food waste and that is in the supply chain and the home.

“We have a huge contribution to make and will continue our work with suppliers and consumers to build on the progress we have already made."

Find out more about the British Retail Consortium or the recent actions taken by supermarkets to reduce food waste.

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