Tesco to donate edible back of store surplus to charity
Hot off the heels of the recent legislation in France obliging French supermarkets to donate unsold edible surplus to charities, Tesco’s announcement is a response to the public demand in the UK and globally to stop the unacceptable practice of throwing away edible food. The clear benefit of schemes like the one launched today by FareShare and FoodCloud is that it removes the fig leaf of complicated logistics and traceability issues that supermarkets typically use as an excuse to avoid donating surplus food to charities.
Whilst this scheme is a good step towards reducing the waste of edible food in stores, it is further up the supermarket supply chains where most food waste happens.
Tesco and other UK retailers have themselves claimed that only 1-2% of the UK’s food waste occurs in their own stores (equating to over 55,000 tonnes of food in the case of Tesco). It is indeed on farms and pack-houses across the country and abroad however, where millions of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables are being wasted as a result of supermarket practices.
Strict cosmetic standards imposed by supermarkets lead to perfectly edible fruit and vegetables being wasted on a huge scale despite increasing evidence that consumers are willing to buy wonky fruit and vegetables. Last minute changes or cancellations in supermarket orders mean that fresh food that could be eaten by people is unnecessarily wasted, even in countries like Kenya where millions go hungry. Feedback’s recent investigations in the export supply chains of UK and European supermarkets have revealed that farmers in Kenya and Guatemala are forced to waste up to 50% of their crop because of retail policies and bear the entire cost of that waste.
The single biggest thing that Tesco and other UK retailers can do to eliminate their food waste is to focus their efforts in preventing food waste from happening in the first place not just in their own stores but most importantly by taking responsibility for the waste they cause throughout their supply chains.
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