Food for thought

21st October 2013 Posted by

Tesco gave some challenging insight to food waste in their report “Tesco and Society: Using our Scale for Good” issued today. Nearly 30,000 tonnes of waste food from the supply chain, store and customer is a big target to work towards, but by my calculations this amounts to around 25kg per Tesco store per day or assuming Tesco’s 30 per cent UK market share, only a few grams of food waste per customer per day.

When you look at the challenge of making small individual changes to impact the significant consolidated amount, you see the scale of change we face to, not only, the supply market but also the consumer buying and consumption patterns.

I’ve been thinking this morning about my own use pattern and repeatedly come back to buying less more often as one change that could contribute to less food waste in my household. Finding and prioritising time to do that extra shopping with work, family and other commitments is a challenge but not one to be avoided.

Making sure that in trying to solve one problem we do not create other issues is an area that requires evidence, careful analysis and innovative approaches. Packing salad in smaller bags may reduce food waste, but might create more plastic bag waste. Shopping for less more often might save food waste but might increase the cost and environmental burden through the extra ‘consumer shopping miles’. Being more seasonal in our consumption patterns, buying loose pack rather than pre-packed food, buying less more often, collecting or getting delivered in the most efficient manner, are all areas where the retailers, Government, recycling and resource industry and consumer need to work together to find and deliver the right answers.

In my opinion, convincing people that it’s the small things that count is one of our biggest challenges. Would you be worried if you wasted a few grams of food per day or would you think that’s acceptable? According to WRAP’s figures we waste millions of tonnes of food every year, comprising millions of us wasting small amounts every day. Saving £480 per year for the average household by avoiding wasting food (WRAP estimate) is no small number, but daily it amounts to the price of a newspaper or less than a pint of beer. Scale is the real challenge here and is the real food for thought.

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