Launched yesterday (12 January), Asda Surplus Swap enables suppliers to redistribute excess food to other counterparts, regardless of who the produce has been grown for. Interested suppliers can view the uploaded details and images of a product online and make contact directly to arrange the purchase.

Speaking at Asda’s annual Sustain and Save Exchange (SSE) Conference yesterday, the retailer’s vice president of corporate affairs Charlotte Cool said: “Our suppliers are extremely engaged in sharing best practice and ideas with each other – we’ve had of some really innovative partnerships created by our SSE Network, driving efficiencies and best practice, and wanted to go even further this year.”

Innovative approach

Asda’s subsidiary business IPL was the first supplier to sign up to the new app and has this morning identified plums, peaches and apricots which could be used by suppliers.

The initiative forms part of Asda’s commitment to double its food redistribution by 2020. It follows the retailer’s recent extension of the SSE scheme, which provides all food and drink suppliers access to an online community to share information, best practice and to increase resource efficiency. The scheme is estimated to have made suppliers savings and investments of more than £28m since its inception in 2013, with more than £2m reportedly saved last year alone.

WRAP estimates that around 45% of UK food waste comes from the supply chain. The organisation’s head of food sustainability Dr David Moon believes evidence indicates there is significant potential to increase the amount redistributed by food manufacturers.  

“In food retail, Asda and other supermarkets are already making big strides in redistributing their own surplus; so I am delighted to see this innovative approach to helping suppliers make best use of surpluses elsewhere in the food chain,” Dr Moon said.

Mobilising action

Asda’s Surplus Swap scheme highlights the retail industry’s commitment to reducing its environmental impacts and benefit of collaborative action within the supply chain. In a similar innovative attempt to tackle the food waste issue, Sainsbury’s recently invented an innovative food waste app, which operates as a smart meter to monitor and weigh food waste.

Both supermarket giants are active members of the Courtauld Commitment 2025, a Government-backed initiative which possesses ambitious targets for food waste reduction within the manufacturing and retail sectors. Earlier this week, new figures revealed that the Commitment’s previous phase generated an estimated £100m in food waste savings over a three-year period.

Asda recently became the first supermarket to show food customer food waste savings, with figures highlighting that its customers saved £57 a year on average after a campaign was launched to tackle domestic food waste. Late last year, Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis told edie that there is a need for better communication and greater transparency from businesses to help mobilise further action amongst suppliers and consumers.

edie’s innovation month

The month of January sees edie shift the editorial spotlight to green innovation, with a series of exclusive interviews, features and podcasts running throughout the month to celebrate the very best of emerging clean technologies and low-carbon systems.

Change will not happen without genuine innovation and so this month will explore the bleeding edge where change is really happening. From emerging tech to new business models; breakthrough approaches and creative leaders, we’ll shine the spotlight on the real game-changers and sort the facts from the fads.

Read all of edie’s innovation content here.

George Ogleby

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