A crust above: Tesco to use waste bread in new products

The UK's largest supermarket has launched a new initiative aimed at repurposing surplus French bread from its in-store bakeries and reducing food waste.

Under the scheme, Tesco will collect unsold baguettes and batons from 24 of its UK-based in-store bakeries and use them to make its own-brand olive crostini and bread and butter pudding.

The closed-loop products will go on sale at the 24 locations next week, with Tesco estimating that it could halve the amount of fresh bread it wastes annually if the initiative is rolled out across the UK.

Fresh bakery goods notably account for around one-third (67,500 tonnes) of food waste at the retail level in the UK annually, according to WRAP. Tesco’s system could, therefore, have far wider applications.

“This initiative from Tesco is an excellent example of a simple solution to a common problem,” WRAP’s head of business collaboration David Moon said.

“Using surpluses in store to make a delicious new product saves good food from spoiling and reduces the cost of waste to the business.

Tesco’s existing framework for reducing bakery waste is to discount the price of all fresh items while they are still on sale. If this does not shift the products, they are then sent to food distribution charities or offered for free through Tesco’s ‘colleague shop’ initiative. The supermarket’s last resort is to send the baked goods for use in animal feed.

Food for thought

Tesco’s drive to reduce food waste is driven by an overarching commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recommend that the amount of food wasted globally is halved by 2030.

The supermarket first made a commitment to stop sending food products to landfill in 2009. Four years later, it became the first UK supermarket to publicly publish its food waste data.

Since then, Tesco has made a number of moves in this area, from removing ‘best before’ dates from produce lines in order to minimise consumer-level waste, to signing a new government-led commitment aimed at uniting food and drink businesses, policymakers and members of the public in aligning with SDG 12.3.

Overall, Tesco wasted 17% less food by weight during 2018-19 than during the previous 12-month period.

Sarah George



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