The UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, has taken a positive measure towards curbing food waste and by announcing that it will make new products out of unsold bread from in-store bakeries. As part of the scheme, it will create its own olive crostini and bread pudding from leftover baguettes and batons that will go on sale in 24 Tesco stores across the UK.
Tesco’s current system to reduce waste includes discounting prices of fresh items at first and then giving them to food distribution charities or offered to staff for free in case they’re still left unsold. Baked goods are sent to be used as animal feed as a last resort. Estimates by Tesco show that if the new initiative is rolled out across the UK, it could lead to 50% reductions in annual fresh bread wastage.
According to the UK Government’s food waste adviser Wrap, surplus bread is amongst the biggest waste problems for food retailers, due to its short shelf life. David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration at Wrap, said, “this initiative from Tesco is an excellent example of a simple solution to a common problem…saves good food from spoiling and reduces the cost of waste to the business.”
Tesco has continued to take measures towards reducing food wastage from as early as 2009 when it decided to stop sending food products to landfills. Since then, steps like removing the 'best before' dates on fruits and vegetables and signing a government led pledge to halve food waste by 2019 have shown Tesco’s commitment to the cause and ultimately led to its food waste reducing by 17% in 2018-2019. Such measures are extremely important in today’s world hunger laden scenario, and fit with the urgent need towards taking responsibility for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
How far will Tesco’s commitment to food waste reduction take it in terms of making profits? Will this initiative inspire more retail chains to take similar steps towards reducing food waste?