Tesco Offers Free Food To Staff In Bid To Cut Down On Waste
Tesco has announced that it is introducing 'Colleague Shops' in all of its UK stores, which will allow staff members to take food that is approaching its expiry date, contributing to the reduction of food waste.
The UK's largest supermarket says that storage areas and fridges will be set up in the staff areas of its stores by the end of February, containing stock that has passed its 'best before' date or nearing the expiry date, but is still suitable to eat.
Initially, this surplus food will be made available to employees for £0.01, before becoming free of charge in a few months' time.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure perfectly good food doesn’t go to waste," said Mark Little, Tesco's head of food waste reduction.
"Our Colleague Shops are a win-win, providing an additional step to support our efforts to tackle food waste in our own operations, and offer colleagues an extra little help at the end of their shift.”
The move is part of Tesco's ongoing food waste campaign, which aims to ensure that no food safe for human consumption will go to waste in its UK retail operations by February 2018.
Tesco has already established a number of steps to reduce food waste across its store network.
The company uses systems to predict and order the amount of food that customers are expected to buy in stores, and the price of products are 'reduced to clear' as they approach their expiry date, to minimise surplus.
If food cannot be sold, it is offered to local charities and community food groups through Tesco's redistribution platform, and now any leftover food that is not given to charity will be made available to Tesco staff.
In an interview with The Telegraph in December, Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said that a number of new food waste initiatives will be implemented at all of its 2,654 stores across the UK this year.
“Last year we sold ten million tonnes of food to the British public,” said Lewis. “But even if our waste is just 0.7% of the food, that’s still 70,000 tonnes of food. And so long as that food is fit for human consumption I’d much prefer it to go to people than animal feed or fuel.”
“Food waste has been talked about for years, but if Tesco can make this work, with all of our different stores across the country, then why can’t everybody,” he added.
In September, Lewis announced that the retailer had established partnership agreements with 24 of its largest food suppliers, with the aim of halving food waste in the supply chain by 2030.
The suppliers, who collectively represent over £17 billion worth of Tesco sales, will publish food waste data for their own operations within 12 months, and have committed to reducing food waste in their supply chains, as well as making it easier for consumers to reduce waste at home.
Tesco has been publishing its own food waste data for its UK operations for the past four years, and has now committed to doing the same for its businesses in the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary.
“In retail there will always be some surplus food, because no matter how sophisticated the ordering systems are it will be impossible to perfectly match the supply and demand for every one of our shops, 365 days a year, when there’s so much volatility,” Lewis told The Telegraph.
However, Tesco has introduced a number of initiatives in its stores this year in a bid to cut down on waste, such as reducing the number of 'buy one get one free' offers, in order to encourage customers to only buy as much food as they need, and selling fresh produce with aesthetic issues that are still edible, such as wonky veg, green satsumas, and small avocados.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, Tesco signed the Irish government's new food waste charter last week, which aims to find a collaborative and long-term approach to tackling food waste across the sector.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.