Tesco begins rollout of national food waste scheme

Tesco begins rollout of national food waste schemeTesco has announced that it is to introduce a nationwide initiative intended to dramatically reduce the amount of its food that goes to waste.

Community Food Connection, which redirects surplus food to charity, will begin rolling out in 15 cities and regions (including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Portsmouth) this week, with all 800 of its large stores reached by the end of 2016 and all stores covered by the end of 2017.

The initiative’s technology, created by food redistribution social enterprise FoodCloud and delivered in partnership with charity FareShare, will allow Tesco store managers to alert local charities and community groups to the amount of surplus food they have at the end of each day.

Charity will then be able to confirm if they want the food, pick it up from the store for free and use it to create meals for a range of beneficiaries including homeless hostels, women’s refuges and breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children.

A pilot for the programme was launched last year and was trialled in 14 stores. Over the past six months, Tesco says the scheme has saved 22 tonnes of food, an estimated 50,000 meals for charities and community groups.

Tesco and FareShare are calling out for 5,000 charities and community groups to join up and receive free surplus food through the scheme, as part of a nationwide charity recruitment drive. The latest figures supplied by Tesco show that 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at Tesco stores and distribution centres in the UK last year, of which around 30,000 tonnes could otherwise have been eaten – equivalent to around 70 million meals.

Tesco believes that, once fully developed, other retailers across the industry could also adopt the FareShare FoodCloud initiative.

‘Already provided nine million meals to help feed vulnerable people’

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis was recently appointed chair of the Champions 12.3 coalition, which was launched in January to ‘inspire ambition and mobilise action’ to reduce food waste and loss globally, ultimately working towards UN Sustainability Development Goal 12, which calls for halving food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030.

Commenting on the national rollout of the Community Food Connection, he said: “We believe that no food that could be eaten should be wasted – that’s why we have committed that no surplus food should go to waste from our stores. We know it’s an issue our customers really care about, and wherever there’s surplus food at Tesco stores, we’re committed to donating it to local charities so we can help feed people in need.

“But we know the challenge is bigger than this and that’s why we’ve made a farm to fork commitment to reduce food waste upstream with our suppliers and in our own operations and downstream in our customers’ own homes.”

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare CEO, added: “We are delighted to be offering our store level solution in partnership with Tesco who are demonstrating real leadership in tackling food surplus.

“FareShare FoodCloud is a natural extension of our work together, which has already provided nine million meals to help feed vulnerable people.

“Our role as a trusted partner to the voluntary sector is really important to the charities and community groups we work with and we are excited to launch this new service with Tesco’s support.”

More information can be found on the Tesco website.