Tesco Enlists Fellow Brits to Help Chain Cut Down on Food Waste


“Food waste” is being recognized increasingly around the globe as a key issue that impinges directly on sustainability and hunger, and more companies are moving to harvest the low-hanging fruit available in an attack on the problem.

Tesco is the latest. The UK’s dominant grocery chain just disclosed the enormity of the food wasted in its own operations and its initial steps aimed at reducing the problem, which should have an actual effect—and endear Brits who are rightly concerned about all the food they squander.

The chain’s research revealed that 40 percent of apples are wasted, with just over a quarter of that waste occurring in the home. The same fate awaits a quarter of grapes, with the majority occurring in the home, and one-fifth of all bananas.[more]

One of the counters Tesco has introduced: “Love Banana” training for store employees to show customers how to make them last longer, according to a Tesco release. Tesco also is working with producers to try new varieties of grapes that have a longer life and to shorten the time it takes to get grapes from the field to the store. It is removing “display until” dates from freseh fruits and vegetables and rearranging 600 bakeries in larger stores to reduce the amount of bread on display—leading to better stock control and less waste.

“We’ve all got a responsibility to tackle food waste and there is no quick-fix single solution,” Matt Simister, commercial director of group food for Tesco, said in the release. “Families are wasting an estimated 700 [currency pounds] a year and we want to help them keep that money in their pockets, rather than throwing it in the bin.”

Presumably recognizing the win-win-win nature of cutting food waste, UK media are jumping in to help the anti-effort. The Guardian, for instance, is staging a contest seeking photos of food sitting idle in British refrigerators.

Meanwhile, Tesco also is taking steps to do a better job of fitting its products to its customers, which in turn has the practical effect of reducing food waste (in addition to selling more of it). For example, the company has set up the entrance at a store in East London to better reflect the dominant Asian neighborhood demographic, with mango juice and Asian magazines prominent just inside the doors, according to Bloomberg. Tesco has refreshed 80 stores in London this year with such a “targeted, local focus to lure back customers who have defected to cheaper rivals and neighborhood shops,” the news outlet said.

Tesco also is developing innovative ways to ensure that new items in its stores are what customers want and conveniently available to them, such as the introduction of a 7-inch tablet computer, called Hudl, that can be used in its stores for online shopping and to view movies and other Tesco-branded digital content. The device lets customers “shop whenever, however and wherever they want.”