Supermarket secrecy clouds food waste truths

Three of the four big supermarkets in the UK have refused to publicly reveal how much food they throw away each year.

According to Channel 4 news, Britain's supermarkets collectively generate 300,000 tonnes of food waste every year, but Tesco, Asda and Morrison's declined to disclose their individual figures when contacted by the news channel.

Tesco and Asda also refused to explain why they won't release such data, while Morrison's claimed such informative was "commercially sensitive".

Despite this, all three were adamant they produced very little food waste.
Only Sainsbury's was prepared to publish its food waste figures and told Channel 4 it generated about 44,000 tonnes of food waste in 2011.

The supermarket added that none of that ended in landfill with edible food going to charity, while the rest went to animal organisations or for processing through anaerobic digestion.

Food waste author and campaigner Tristram Stuart told Channel 4 that greater transparency among the 'big four' would benefit everyone.

He said: "All these big supermarkets should be reporting how much food they waste on an annual basis. This would create transparency in the system and competition between supermarkets to appear the least wasteful."

However the British Retail Consortium's environmental policy advisor Bob Gordon said supermarkets were "sceptical" about how the figures might be used and that they already provide data collectively to WRAP.

He argued: "Retailers wouldn't deliberately overstock and deliberately throw food away. That would be a cost to their business and they're trying very hard to minimise those costs from the outset to remain competitive."

Maxine Perella


| food | Food waste | retail


Waste & resource management
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