With the financial and non-financial benefits of reducing food waste so evident, it is important that investors encourage companies to respond to this opportunity and publish their performance data and future targets. UK companies can sign up to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, which guides companies on setting reduction targets, measuring food waste and acting to reduce it under the banner of ‘Target, Measure and Act’. The initiative covers the entire food supply chain, with the aim of halving food waste by 2030. Tesco and Ocado have both signed up.
Supermarkets have a central role in efforts to reduce food waste along the whole supply chain. Tesco is the industry’s UK pioneer for measuring and publishing its food waste, having started in 2013.6 For context, of the total food waste from Tesco’s upstream manufacturing, midstream retail operations and downstream households, domestic food waste contributed 77% of the total. Tesco’s retail operations, on the other hand, contributed just under 3%. Therefore, it is of vital importance that Tesco and other food retailers work with the whole supply chain in efforts to cut wastage.
Tesco has committed to SDG 12.3 by aiming to halve food waste in its operations by 2030. It has also set a target that no food safe for human consumption will be wasted in UK operations and has donated more than 60 million meals to community food banks and charities. It has not sent any food to landfill since 2009. Tesco has also encouraged its partners to publish food-waste data and to sign up to ‘Target, Measure and Act’. Tesco has done other work with its suppliers, such as launching the ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range of ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables in 2016. This helps to reduce food waste and allows Tesco to sell these products at a lower price, benefitting consumers.
The online grocery retailer’s centralised and technology-driven customer fulfilment centre (CFC) model gives it an advantage in terms of reducing food waste over store-reliant retailers, because it can gauge supply and demand more accurately.7 In addition, products can be out for delivery to customers within five hours. As a result, Ocado currently wastes only one in 6,000 – or less than 0.02% – of its food items and is working to reduce this further. For example, Ocado is using machine learning and artificial intelligence in its forecasting to try to predict demand accurately for each product. It has also introduced a product-life guarantee to inform online customers how many days each item can be kept. Ocado, through its work with WRAP, is ensuring its product labelling follows best practice guidelines. This includes placing a snowflake logo on nearly all its chilled ranges to show they are suitable for freezing, even milk.