Around a third of the food produced globally is wasted. This equates to over 1.3 billion tonnes worth of produce per year that never makes it to our plates, and instead ends up in landfill. Fruit and veg waste is perhaps the most alarming – around 40% of all UK grown fruit and veg gets disposed of before even reaching the supermarket, due to it failing to match UK supermarkets high aesthetic standards. It is estimated that if only one quarter of the food that was wasted yearly was instead saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people.
The effects of this waste on our environment are substantial – the production of this wasted food releases 4.4 million tonnes of C02 a year into the atmosphere and thus significantly contributes to global warming. In response to this, last week saw all of the UK’s leading supermarkets sign a pledge to significantly reduce their food waste following a UK government action plan. This pledge calls for food waste in the UK to be halved by 2030 and to raise public awareness surrounding the weight of the issue in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Supermarkets contribute to food waste more so than any other food related industry, due to their involvement in the entirety of the food production chain. Some UK supermarkets have been taking positive steps towards reducing their food waste in the last few years, however not all efforts have proven equal. A recent study by Feedback, the food waste charity, has shown that across the UK, Tesco’s efforts to reduce food waste have been the most successful, whereas other supermarkets, such as Waitrose, M&S, and Iceland are falling behind. You can read the full report here: https://feedbackglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Supermarket-scorecard_136_fv-1.pdf
Tesco’s successes may be due to their innovative approaches to solving the issue. Tesco were the first UK retailer to publish their food waste data. In making this data public they hoped that input from external sources and the public would function to identify hotspots for improvement and invite innovative solutions and potential partnerships. Perhaps this is where their success lies – Take, for example, their recent partnership with FareShare which has seen them donating all surplus food from stores to those in need through local community food connection and charities. Or Perhaps their recent partnership with our very own Smarter FridgeCam, which is designed to reduce food waste in a home by home basis! FridgeCam lets you check on the contents of your Fridge at any point, from anywhere, and uses its best before tracker to let you know when items are about to expire. FridgeCam thus encourages you to use the food already in your Fridge, helping you to work towards minimising your own household food waste forever.
We hope that the other big brand supermarkets take a little inspiration from Tesco and develop their own novel and effective approaches to reducing food waste as the pledge moves forward.