Feedback challenges Tesco to reduce its meat and dairy sales

21st Jun 23 by Liam Lysaght

Read about the greenwash van's visit to Tesco.

Last week, we were at Tesco’s AGM to challenge the food retail giant on its climate targets, and its inaction to meet them. Tesco has committed to be net zero by 2050, but is dangerously light on detail for how they’ll achieve this. Most importantly, it has no plan nor ambition to reduce its sales of the most highly polluting food products – meat and dairy.

As they haven’t even published the emissions data of their massive meat and dairy sales, we calculated it for them and presented the findings to their CEO, Ken Murphy, in front of the Board and the shareholders.

A van is seen parked outside Tesco in Hackney East London, 12 July 2023.
Photo: Marcin Nowak/Feedback

Using open data from similar businesses, we estimated Tesco’s meat, fish and dairy sales to be 24.8 million tonnes CO2e every year. This is equivalent to the emissions from the whole country of Northern Ireland, and is a considerable roadblock to their net zero ambitions. Yet Tesco has yet to publish a strategy for how it will reduce this enormous greenhouse gas bill. Instead, Tesco has been busy publicising its fleet of electric delivery vans, which they have predicted to save 82,000 tonnes by 2028 – representing only 0.1% of the company’s overall emissions this year.

We made it clear to the CEO, the Board of Directors, and the shareholders: Every little doesn’t help when it comes to a carbon footprint as big as Tesco’s. Initiatives like electric vans amount to little more than greenwash and gimmicks if they aren’t paired with a real plan to tackle the 24.8 million tonnes of C02e from Tesco’s continued and reckless sales of meat and dairy.

That’s also why our ‘Tesco Climate-Delivery Van’ recently took to the streets of London – to let Tesco’s customers know how the supermarket is failing to act on the climate crisis. The spoof delivery van carried the familiar style of Tesco’s advertising, but cut through the bull to show the reality of the food retailer’s climate impacts.

Feedback are calling on Tesco to get serious on their meat and dairy sales, publish their product emissions data, and start taking action to reduce their emissions where it matters.

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