Tesco, WWF join forces to halve environmental impact of food

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

UK retailer Tesco has entered a partnership with environmental group WWF with the ambition of halving the impact the food it sells has on the environment.

“Partnering with WWF will help us make our customers’ shopping baskets more sustainable. Our shared ambition is to reduce the environmental impact of the average shopping basket by half,”​ Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said.

“By working with farmers, suppliers, colleagues and other experts we hope to develop innovative solutions so shoppers can put affordable, tasty food on their plates today, confident they are not compromising the future of food for generations to come.”

The ‘ground breaking’ four year partnership aims to improve the sustainability of food while ensuring it remains affordable.

Food production is at the centre of key environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss, Tesco and WWF noted.

Joint research from the two organisations found 80% of UK shoppers want supermarkets to do more to offer choices that reduce the environmental impact of food on the planet. However, the research also showed there are still obstacles deterring shoppers from adopting more sustainable consumption habits. In total, 59% of respondents reported being confused about which foods count as ‘sustainable’ and 75% said cost is a barrier.

Food ‘one of biggest dangers’ to the planet

The tie-up will concentrate on three “key areas”​ of activity. 

Helping customers eat more sustainable diets, WWF and Tesco will both promote sustainable choices for consumers and "transform" ​products across Tesco's range to reduce the damage caused by production. 

The groups said they are also working to "restore nature in food production", working with British farmers to protect and restore the natural resources they depend upon. WWF and Tesco also plan to eliminate deforestation from products and ingredients sourced internationally, including soy, palm, timber and cattle products. 

Finally Tesco and WWF said they want to make progress on eliminating food and packaging waste in the sector.

“Our flagship Living Planet Report 2018 recently revealed that the world is under threat like never before – we’re destroying forests, choking the oceans with plastic, decimating wildlife and causing devastating changes to our climate. And it’s the demand for food that poses one of the biggest dangers to our planet. It’s the leading cause of deforestation, destroying countless habitats and threatening wildlife to the point of extinction,”​ Tanya Steele, WWF UK CEO said.

“We have the power to not only stop, but to reverse the damage, if we act now. That is why we are delighted to be partnering with Tesco, to help create a food system that doesn’t cost the Earth.”

Building on the findings of the report, the partnership will play an important role in delivering Tesco’s existing sustainability commitments set out in its Little Helps Plan.

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