Tesco Begins Giving Unsold Food To Charities — Supermarket Giant Finalizes Nationwide Initiative To Eradicate Food Wastage

Tesco has finalized an agreement to give unsold food to charity. The supermarket giant intends to work with as many as 5,000 charities. Tesco is confident that by next year, it would have successfully stemmed food wastage at its stores.

UK’s biggest grocery chain, Tesco PLC, has etched out the final draft of an agreement that will involve transfer of all unsold food directly to charities. The surplus food could be distributed to as many as 5,000 charities and groups that deal with food distribution to the needy. The supermarket company intends to eradicate food waste and help vulnerable people. Speaking about the initiative, Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the following.

“We believe no food that could be eaten should be wasted. That’s why we have committed that no surplus food should go to waste from our stores. We know it’s an issue our customers really care about, and wherever there’s surplus food at Tesco stores, we’re committed to donating it to local charities so we can help feed people in need. But we know the challenge is bigger than this and that’s why we’ve made a farm to fork commitment to reduce food waste upstream with our suppliers and in our own operations and downstream in our customers’ own homes.”

Tesco confirmed that the plan to donate the unsold food follows another initiative called “Farm to Fork.” Through the commitment, the company intended to tackle food waste by its suppliers. However, it appears the initiative wasn’t enough, primarily based on the staggering food waste that occurred after it had reached the stores and distribution centers, and then went past its optimum sell-by date.

By the company’s own internal investigation, Tesco determined that 55,400 tons of food was simply thrown away annually. Even if the initiative hadn’t been operational then, about 30,000 tons of food could have been salvaged and offered to the vulnerable sections of the society, reported Metro. This salvaged food could have easily generated close to 70 million meals.

The intention to give away unsold food to charities is part of a nationwide roll-out of a 14-store pilot program called the Community Food Connection, reported the Independent. The stores in Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, and Portsmouth were among the first ones to pioneer the novel approach to minimize food wastage and ensure the unprivileged get something to eat.

The pilot program lasted for about six months. However, within the relatively small span of time, Tesco managed to provide more than 22 tons of food to the vulnerable people. Considering the amount necessary for healthy survival, the quantity is more than enough to generate 50,000 meals for people who struggle to find food for sustenance. Now, Tesco is confident to extend the program to all of its stores.

Tesco has partnered with food waste FareShare. Jointly, they will launch a digital open platform called FareShare FoodCloud. The digital platform will allow staff and charities to liaise to distribute surplus food. Besides the 5,000 charities that Tesco is expected to step forward and join the program, the supermarket giant has requested other retailers to adopt the FareShare FoodCloud. The retailer hopes to create an industry-wide platform to slowly minimize and eventually eliminate food wastage. Speaking about the collaboration, FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said the following.

“We are delighted to be offering our store level solution in partnership with Tesco who are demonstrating real leadership in tackling food surplus. FareShare FoodCloud is a natural extension of our work together which has already provided nine million meals to help feed vulnerable people.”

Interestingly, Tesco isn’t the only private enterprise to divert unsold surplus food to charities. Another major retailer, Morrisons, had announced a similar initiative. Its distribution scheme is called “community champions,” which the company tested for an entire year, before rolling it out to all its stores across the nation.

Tesco Begins Giving Unsold Food To Charities - Supermarket Giant Finalizes Nationwide Initiative

Tesco recently launched another similar initiative, called “Perfectly Imperfect.” The project includes a range of so-called “wonky vegetables.” These vegetables would have been previously thrown away, but now they will be available at reduced prices.

While Tesco has taken the decision not to let unsold food go waste, France became the first country to force supermarkets to donate the surplus food to charities.

[Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]