Digital scanning and supplier support schemes: Asda launches new initiatives to cut food waste
Asda is making funding available to suppliers to help them donate surplus products, and has also rolled out new technology to help ensure that food approaching its expiry date gets sold in stores.
On the former, the supermarket has allocated £1.4m to a new ‘All Good Food Fund’, which it will operate in partnership with charitable food redistribution network and platform FareShare.
The funding will be used to help suppliers of fruit, vegetables, eggs, bread and other products to redistribute products they are not able to sell to their retailer clients including Asda. It will help to cover additional costs associated with redistribution, including transport and staff hours.
Once FareShare receives products, they are taken to regional centres ready for redistribution to more than 10,500 UK-based charities and community groups. Recipients are able to specify what kinds of food they need, and can also specify quantities and delivery frequencies.
FareShare’s chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: “The All Good Food Fund enables us to step up our support for the food industry. The funding will be instrumental in making sure companies can quickly and safely divert their surplus to frontline charities, in a cost-effective way. We’re keen to hear from businesses who are looking to develop individual solutions to unlock access to surplus that has previously been seen as harder to reach.”
Asda is already redistributing surplus food from stores and depots through FareShare. In 2021, the partnership redistributed the equivalent of 6.6 million meals.
The supermarket’s headline commitment to cut food waste in operations and the supply chain is to deliver a 20% reduction by 2025 and a 50% reduction by 2030. Both targets are set against a 2018 baseline.
In a further move that should drive progress towards this goal, Asda is rolling out a digital date checking solution that identifies products which are approaching their expiry dates, enabling workers in stores to mark down prices ahead of their expiry.
This should, in theory, eliminate human error that leads to product markdowns being missed or carried out inefficiently.
The solution is developed by startup Whywaste. Asda first trialled the technology in one store in early 2020, and this month confirmed that it has now been added to all stores.
“To reach our waste targets, we are constantly looking for technologies and tools to help,” said Asda’s waste process manager Andrew Hudson. “We have had great feedback from our stores and we are excited by the positive impact this new technology will have.”
Earlier this year, Asda launched an innovative new plastic-free material coating for citrus fruits and avocados in 150 0f its stores. The innovation, from Apeel Sciences, purports to extend the shelf life of produce.