Tesco agrees pioneering deal with suppliers to halve food waste

Tesco has struck a deal with its largest food suppliers for them to adopt the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve food waste by 2030, on the same day a new global initiative has called on major international food producers to reduce food loss and waste.

Partnership agreements with 24 suppliers, representing more than £17bn worth of Tesco sales, will see the producers publish food waste data for their own operations with 12 months.

The suppliers have pledged to reduce food waste in their supply chain, and to innovate to ensure less food is thrown away by consumers. The pledge comes after Tesco launched an innovative online food waste ‘hotline‘ to help the retailer work directly with suppliers and producers to identify and prevent potential supply chain food waste.

Speaking at a meeting of Champions 12.3 in New York yesterday (20 September), Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “Great progress has been made, but the reality is that we need many more companies, countries or cities committing to halve food waste by 2030, measuring and publishing their data and acting on that insight to tackle food waste.

“I am delighted that many of our major suppliers have taken this important step so we can work in partnership to reduce food waste.”

Tesco has also revealed its businesses in the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary have published their food waste data, following four years of publication in the UK. The move will help the retailer to redirect its surplus food to the likes of redistribution organisation FareShare.

Welcoming the new pledges, food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart said: “We have been challenging Tesco and other supermarkets on transparent reporting of food waste for years now. This commitment to ensure that supply chain waste is measured and reported makes Tesco the world-leading supermarket on transparent food waste reporting, and represents a significant step towards meeting the global goal to halve food waste by 2030.

“It’s time for other businesses to follow suit, and for Tesco, along with the rest of the world’s supermarkets, to demonstrate, if they can, that their businesses are not inherently wasteful.”

Producer pledges

Tesco’s announcement comes as a new global initiative has called on private sector members to halve their own food and agricultural losses by 2030, and work with suppliers and customers to the same end.

Launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in New York, the voluntary resolution has received support from the coalition Global Agri-Business Alliance (GAA). WBCSD highlights that a third of all food produced each for human consumption is never consumed, costing the global economy $940bn.

“This is very significant because it’s the first ever global initiative addressing food loss supported by major agri-businesses, committing to halve their own losses by 2030,” said WBCSD vice president Peter White.

“WBCSD is extending support across the whole supply chain, by involving other food and agriculture initiatives, and this engagement by companies is vital, since almost all food is produced by the private sector.”

Food date labels

These developments come a day after 400 consumer goods firms top multinationals including Tesco, Kellogg and Walmart committed to simplify food date labels globally by 2020. The proposals call for retailers and food producers to use one label at a time, either “use by” for perishable items or “best before” for non-perishables.

The commitments came alongside a new SDG food waste report which highlighted progress to date and included a roadmap of required actions by companies, countries and cities if the world to halve food waste by 2030. The report suggested that not enough companies or governments are measuring and reporting food loss and waste, a key tool in analysing whether strategies are paying dividends.

George Ogleby

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