Tesco announces food waste mitigation moves

Tesco announces food waste mitigation moves
Tesco has extended the choice of produce offered by its recently launched ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range, while also relaxing standards to save 135 tonnes of edible fine bean crop going to waste.

The retailer this week (19 April) announced a partnership with Kenyan produce growers that it says will save 135 tonnes of edible fine bean crop from being wasted each year.

Under its previous standards, growers were required to deliver beans within a strict size range and trim them before being packed and shipped to the UK. Following customer feedback however, the retailer has decided to widen the length specifications and stop the pre-trimming of beans. This, Tesco estimates, will stop up to 15 per cent of each bean from going to waste.

As well as reducing waste at the producer end of the supply chain, Tesco Commercial Director for Fresh Food Matt Simister says that the move will deliver a fresher product to consumers, providing a longer life and less household food waste.

He said: “Our overall aim is to use as much of the edible crop as possible. In some cases, we believe that our specifications - such as with the fine beans - can be widened to accommodate more of the crop. If there is a surplus, we will work with suppliers to find an outlet – for example, by connecting our growers with our fresh and frozen suppliers for it to be used in foods such as ready meals. We’ve also improved how we forecast and order to help producers cut down on waste by only growing and harvesting what is required.

“In the case of Kenyan fine bean growers we have overhauled the ordering process. This means the beans can be sent straight to our distribution centres, cutting time out of the supply chain and providing customers with a fresher product.”

Perfectly Imperfect

The supermarket’s ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range was launched across 250 of the supermarket’s larger stores in March and initially only included parsnips and potatoes. A spokesperson for the retailer said at the time that it aims to add between 15 and 20 new lines throughout the year, and it has now introduced discounted strawberries and apples to the range. With the move, Tesco says that it will now be taking 95 per cent of their suppliers’ strawberries and 97 per cent of their British apple growers’ crop.

Tesco announces food waste mitigation movesAlong with lowering retail specifications for the produce, Simister explained in a blog post last week, Tesco is also attempting to develop solutions to in-store waste, through activities including mashing lower grade potatoes or juicing apples that he said customers would normally reject.

Simister wrote: “We have experienced high levels of waste in-store on the parsnips in particular, and therefore need to continually develop our specifications so that we minimise the food that is wasted in any part of the chain.

“At the same time, we are then developing sustainable relationships between partner suppliers so that what customers won’t pick up in-store, can hopefully find a home in the food chain when it needs one.”

In order to achieve this, Simister says, Tesco has facilitated the up-take of 35 tonnes per week from potato suppliers Branston into their ready meals partner Samworth Brothers. They also hope to develop relationships between apple suppliers Scripps and juicers.

Tesco’s new scheme follows initiatives from other supermarket giants Morrisons and Asda, which have each trialled their own imperfect vegetable ranges, with positive results. Asda has since extended its ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ range to trial Wonky Vegetable boxes.

Additionally, the 2015/16 sustainability report of London catering company Vacherin, who launched their ‘I’mPerfect’ range in January 2015, claims that the company  saved over 3,200kg of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise have been wasted by taking produce that has been rejected by larger retailers.