Lidl takes on food waste with veg boxes in UK

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Lidl hopes its new box scheme will reduce the amount of produce it wastes in the UK ©iStock/nito100
Lidl hopes its new box scheme will reduce the amount of produce it wastes in the UK ©iStock/nito100
Discount retailer Lidl has launched a UK trial of what it has called ‘Too Good to Waste’ boxes, which contain fruit and vegetables the supermarket said are no longer considered “at their perfect best”.

The boxes will contain approximately 5kg of fruit and veg that – while past their prime – are still “perfectly food to eat​”. The boxes will retail at £1.50 (€1.68) each, the company revealed.

Too Good to Waste boxes will go on sale first thing in the morning and be available for the first two hours of trading. After this, any unsold items will be donated to local causes via the supermarket’s Feed it Back food redistribution programme, Lidl explained.

Unveiling the plan, Lidl said that the launch was a first for supermarkets in the UK.

The trial is taking place in 122 Lidl stores. If rolled out nationwide, Lidl said it could prevent 10,000 tonnes of surplus produce ending up as food waste each year.

Food waste: ‘One of the most important topics we face’

In 2017, Lidl UK set itself the target of reducing food waste by 25% within three years. The supermarket has also signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of cutting food waste by 50% by 2030.

“Food waste is one of the most important topics that our industry is facing, and one that we are fully committed to tackling,”​ Christian Härtnagel, CEO of Lidl UK, stressed.

According to Härtnage, over the past year the company has cut in-store food waste by 13%. However, he said that further progress is necessary.

“We recognise that there’s still a long way to go, to get where we need to be. We’re fortunate that our business model gives us the flexibility and agility to be creative and trial new approaches that can have a real, positive impact.”

Produce ‘biggest contributor’ to food waste

Härtnage said that reducing fruit and vegetable spoilage was crucial to the group’s overall ambition to cut food waste because fresh produce is a significant contributor to waste.

“Proportionately, we sell the most fruit and veg in the sector, but we know from our data that fresh produce is one of the biggest contributors to food waste in stores, so we’re excited by the difference our Too Good to Waste initiative will make. Not only will it help customers consider items that they might have previously dismissed, it will also provide an opportunity for them to make further savings.”

As part of the new initiative, the supermarket will also introduce additional price reductions on its fresh items that do contain best before and use by dates - on top of the 30% reduction already placed on items in the lead up to best before and use by dates.

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