Shoppers are set to benefit from their favourite fruit, vegetables and salad staying fresher for longer, under an initiative by the UK’s biggest supermarket to slash food waste.
Oranges and lemons, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes are among the popular fresh produce that will stay fresher for up to two days longer as a result of Tesco removing a food packaging stage within its supply chain.
With supermarkets under growing pressure to reduce waste, Tesco has admitted that it wasted 55,400 tonnes of food from its stores last year – about 30,000 tonnes of which was edible.
According to the government’s waste advisory body Wrap (Waste and Resources Reduction Action Programme), 7m tonnes of food is thrown away each year by British households, at a cost to the average family with children of £700 and a national cost of £12.5bn.
As part of its ongoing programme to tackle food waste, Tesco looked at its supply chain to identify ways of working directly with producers to speed up the process by which freshly picked produce arrives in store.
The latest technical advances in packing and storage meant it was possible to ship produce directly from European suppliers to its stores, cutting the amount of time spent in transit.
“For millions of our customers this move will mean having up to an extra two days in which to enjoy some of the most popular fruit and vegetables”, said Matt Simister, commercial director of food at Tesco. “The extra days of freshness will particularly benefit customers who are pressed for time and will mean they are less likely to throw away food.”
Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at Wrap said: “Our ‘Product Life’ research identified a number of simple and safe ways to make changes throughout the supply chain to pass on more product life to shoppers.
“Our report estimates some 250,000 tonnes of food waste could be prevented by a one day increase in product life – food wasted by households and by the supply chain. Preventing this volume of waste means UK shoppers have a potential shared saving of up to £500 million a year.”
Tesco recently announced a partnership with Fareshare and FoodCloud to ensure surplus food in stores goes to people in need. It has also redesigned packaging to increase the shelf life of beef and lamb by five days.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer is to distribute thousands of tonnes of surplus food under a scheme that will use Neighbourly, a social networking app, to link its UK stores to local charities, including food banks.
This article was written by Rebecca Smithers, for theguardian.com on Monday 19th October 2015 18.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010