A study published by supermarket giant Tesco has found that 68% of produce grown for the supermarket’s salad bags, just under half of baked goods and 40% of apples are thrown away. Tesco worked with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to calculate the wastage for 25 of the supermarket’s best-selling products, producing an overall food waste “footprint” for each item.
A quarter of grapes were also unused and a fifth of bananas, with customers contributing to the waste by throwing one in 10 bananas in the bin.
In an overview of all Tesco’s waste, bread and other baked products accounted for the highest percentage of total tonnage value (41%) while meat, fish and poultry accounted for 5%. Uneaten food is estimated to be costing families approximately £700 each year.
“We’ve all got a responsibility to tackle food waste and there is no quick-fix single solution,” said Matt Simister, Tesco’s commercial director. “Little changes can make a big difference, like storing fruit and vegetables in the right way.”
“We’re working with our suppliers to try to cut waste at all stages of the journey from farm to fork”.
The findings further emphasise the problem of food waste, highlighted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ report Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not, published in January. The report stated that as much as half of all the food produced in the world – two billion tonnes – is wasted. As well as poor storage facilities, over-strict sell by dates, “get-one-free” offers and consumer behaviour, the report also looked at how we can make better use of our finite resources. It pointed out that “[O]ne hectare of land can … produce rice or potatoes for 19–22 people per annum. The same area will produce enough lamb or beef for only one or two people.”
With the UK’s population expected to reach 80 million by 2050, and the global population 9 billion, the revelations from Tesco further underline the need for an urgent shift in our food habits so that everyone can be fed.