As people around the globe mark World Food Day, it is an appropriate time to reflect on one of the world’s most tragic contradictions: hunger and food waste. According to the UN World Food Programme, there are 842 million hungry people in the world; at the same time, a third of the world’s food (1.3 billion tonnes) is wasted.
At Tesco we are proud of our commitment to lead in reducing food waste globally. This makes business sense, but also plays an important role in alleviating major environmental and social problems, such as food security and food poverty. Not only does our commitment include collaboration with suppliers, changes to how we source food, the introduction of new packaging and the publication of food waste data from our UK business, we are also striving to make good use of any surplus food that arises from our operations.
For example, across central Europe we have introduced food surplus donation programmes. In Poland the 48 participating stores have donated an incredible one million meals’ worth of food to those in need since September 2013. In Hungary, meanwhile, we are marking World Food Day by taking part in a road convoy through Budapest to highlight the issue of food poverty.
*Food surplus donations in Poland*
In Ireland we have launched a ground-breaking partnership with a social enterprise called FoodCloud. This will enable us to redistribute surplus food from all of our 146 stores across the country to local charities and community groups through the use of FoodCloud’s innovative mobile phone app. The five-month pilot programme which ran from October 2013 in 18 stores saw us successfully donate 27 tonnes of food to local charities.
We have also established programmes in our Asian markets. During the first half of 2014 our business in South Korea, Homeplus, donated over 300,000 bags of food through a bakery surplus programme – helping almost a quarter of a million of people in need. In Thailand we are starting our food surplus donation programme by donating eggs from packs where one has been broken.
Finally in the UK, our biggest market, we continue to work with food surplus charity FareShare. Since September 2012 over 1,000 tonnes of food have been diverted from our dotcom sites and distribution centres – enough to provide over 2.3 million meals.
We know that there is still more to do to ensure that all edible surplus food from across our operations is sent to charities and to those who need it most. Nevertheless, over the last year we have made considerable progress. By continuing to share knowledge and best practice from our markets across the world we hope to achieve even more over the coming year.