Tesco suppliers agree to publish food waste data

Tesco has announced partnership agreements with 24 of its largest food suppliers obliging them to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve food waste by 2030 and to publish food waste data from their own operations within the next 12 months.

Speaking in New York yesterday (20 September) at a meeting of Champions 12.3 - a coalition of leaders from government, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, and civil society dedicated to accelerating progress towards achieving the third target in the UN’s twelfth SDG to halve food waste by 2030 and who yesterday also called for food labelling to be simplified by 2020 - Tesco’s CEO and Champions 12.3 chair, Dave Lewis, announced the agreement designed to increase sustainability in Tesco's supply chain.

In addition to the adoption of the twelfth SDG’s third target and the commitment to publishing food data, the suppliers have committed to take steps needed to reduce food waste in their supply chain and to make it easier for consumers to recycle in their homes.Tesco suppliers agree to publish food waste data

Furthermore, Tesco also announced that its business in the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary have begun to publish their food data, four years after the publication of food waste data in the UK.

The supplier agreement is the first struck between a major retailer and its food suppliers. It follows agreements over the last 12 months at The Institute of grocery Distribution (IGD) and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) with branded suppliers to coalesce around the aims of Champions 12.3.

Leading food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart welcomed the news, saying: “We have been challenging Tesco and other supermarkets on transparent reporting of food waste for years now. This commitment to ensure that supply chain waste is measured and reported makes Tesco the world-leading supermarket on transparent food waste reporting, and represents a significant step towards meeting the global goal to halve food waste by 2030. It’s time for other businesses to follow suit, and for Tesco, along with the rest of the world’s supermarkets, to demonstrate, if they can, that their businesses are not inherently wasteful.”

In his speech, Mr Lewis said: “Great progress has been made, but the reality is that we need many more companies, countries or cities committing to halve food waste by 2030, measuring and publishing their data and acting on that insight to tackle food waste. I am delighted that many of our major suppliers have taken this important step so we can work in partnership to reduce food waste”

The suppliers involved in the agreement are: Yeo Valley, Gomez, Branston, Greencore, Icelandic Seachill, AMT, DPS, Kepak Meat Division, G's, Allied Bakeries, Moy Park, Richard Hochfeld, Ornua, Cranswick, Samworths, 2SFG, Hilton, Espersen, Greenyard Frozen, Müller Milk & Ingredients, Kerry Foods, Bakkavor, Froneri, and Noble.

‘An important first step’

Tesco have been somewhat of a leading light among large retailers over the past few years in terms of working to reduce food waste.

Aside from being the first UK supermarket to publish data on food waste, leading to other retailers such as Sainsbury’s last year to follow suit, Tesco has implemented initiatives such as Community Food Connection which diverts surplus food from its stores to charities across the UK and saw a 148 per cent rise in donations earlier this year, with all stores set to be participating by the end of 2017, and relaxing standards on ‘wonky’ fruit and veg.

Echoing a call from Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee earlier this year, food charity Feedback has called on all supermarkets to follow Tesco’s lead and publish food waste data and address food waste all through their supply chains.

Following Tesco’s announcement yesterday, Feedback’s Executive Director Carina Millstone said: “Feedback has been calling on supermarkets to take responsibility for the colossal amount of food waste in their supply chains for many years. Today, we are delighted that Tesco has finally pledged to address this hidden scandal and look forward to seeing commitment translated into swift action and demonstrable results.

“Tesco’s announcement marks an important first step in making significant inroads in the global fight against food waste, and we call on all supermarkets to follow suit and reduce supply chain food waste immediately.’’

Feedback are pushing for transparency in all operations in supermarkets’ supply chains, as well as encouraging supermarkets to play a bigger role in reducing household food waste through consumer waste analyses and consumer awareness campaigns.

Despite Tesco’s laudable efforts to reduce food waste, Tesco’s food waste tonnage actually increased in 2016/17, and Feedback calls on all supermarkets to go beyond transparency and double down on efforts to tackle the global food waste epidemic.

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