The suppliers, who collectively represent over £17bn worth of Tesco sales, will adopt the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030. They will “take the steps needed” to reduce food waste in their supply chain as well as innovating to “make it easier” for consumers to cut waste at home, Tesco said. Each of the suppliers will publish data on food waste in their operations within 12 months.
Suppliers who have joined the initiative span a variety of categories, from dairy to ready meals and meat. The suppliers involved in the agreement are: Yeo Valley, Gomez, Branston, Greencore, Icelandic Seachill, AMT, DPS, Kepak Meat Division, G's, Allied Bakeries, Moy Park, Richard Hochfeld, Ornua, Cranswick, Samworths, 2SFG, Hilton, Espersen, Greenyard Frozen, Müller Milk & Ingredients, Kerry Foods, Bakkavor, Froneri, and Noble.
In addition, Tesco announced 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 builds on Tesco’s commitment to transparency on food waste data to use that information to help reduce food waste in its operations, the company said.
Tesco CEO Dave Lewis announced the scheme at a meeting of Champions 12.3 in New York yesterday (20 September). This group is dedicated to accelerating progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Target 12.3, which aims to halve per capita food waste at a retail and consumer level and reduce food losses in the supply chain by 2030.
Lewis, who chairs the Champions 12.3 coalition, stressed that more companies need to take action if this goal is to be reached.
“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,” Lewis said.
Food waste author and campaigner Tristram Stuart called on more businesses to follow Tesco’s lead.
“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.”
The supplier agreement is the first struck between a major retailer and its food suppliers.
However, Tesco suggested, it builds on the momentum of previous food waste agreements. For example, a number of large branded manufacturers have already committed to cutting food waste. In 2015, members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) agreed to halve food waste over the next 10 years.
The CGF represents more than 400 global consumer goods companies, including the likes of Nestle, Unilever, The Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo.
In an effort to tackle food waste in the home, the CGF and Champions 12.3 also announced plans to simplify global date labels yesterday. By 2020, companies said they will use only one of two date labels on a given product – an expiration, or ‘use by’, date for perishable items and a food quality indicator, such as ‘best before’, for non-perishables.
The business case to act on food waste
In March 2017 Champions 12.3 released a report examining the business case for taking action on food waste.
Based on analysis covering 1,200 business sites across 700 companies in 17 countries – representing the manufacturing, retail, hospitality and food service industries – the report showed that “almost every time” a business made an investment in curbing food waste, there was a positive return on that investment. For every $1 invested in reducing food waste, half the business sites had at least a $14 return, the report noted.