food waste

Tesco’s food waste increased by more than 4,000 tonnes last year, but charity donations also rose nearly 150% in the same period.

In its most detailed breakdown of waste yet, the supermarket giant revealed it generated a total of 38,696 tonnes of surplus food safe for human consumption, up from around 34,000 tonnes on the previous year.

In 2016-17, 5,700 tonnes of surplus went to people in need, 16,605 tonnes went to animal feed and 16,391 tonnes went to anaerobic digestion and energy recovery, its annual report showed.

Charitable donations were up by 148% from 2,303 tonnes to 5,700 tonnes. Tesco said it expected its Community Food Connection to be rolled out to all of its stores in the UK by the end of the year, putting it on track to donate over 11,700 tonnes next year.

Overall, the proportion of food waste against the total weight of food products sold in Tesco’s UK stores was 0.5% in 2016/17.

Tesco pointed to an increase in food sales this year - up by more than 100,000 tonnes to 9.95m tonnes - as a factor in the net increase in waste, which predominantly came from its produce, bakery and chilled categories. The supermarket has also issued an investigation to better understand the reasons.

By the end of 2017, Tesco hopes no food safe for human consumption will go to waste from its UK retail operation - an aim that sits in line with the The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not campaign.

The supermarket remained determined to meet the goal and also issued a fresh challenge to other supermarkets to be more transparent on food waste. It is the only major retailer to divulge full figures, and earned praise for doing so in the Efra select committee report on waste released on 30 April.

“Transparency and measurement are essential for identifying industry-wide hotspots, and in tackling the root causes of food waste,” said the annual report.

“We need clear, category-specific measures of food waste rather than the aggregated data currently provided by the wider retail industry.”