Tesco and society, no I’d never heard about that either, but yesterday’s announcement of measures that the supermarket will be taking to tackle food waste as part of their joining the green movement and saving the planet are worth a closer look.
The aim’s sound and honorable – the world wastes, according to the latest surveys, a third of all produced food, 1.3 billion tons per year. That of course, at face value, sounds shameful and Tesco are going to do their bit in an attempt to reduce that figure.
When the supplied graph is read on the Tesco web site (the Tesco and Society one) the figure wasted by consumers is 16%, the rest is ‘lost in supply chains’ though they don’t say where, mainly in agriculture.
So even if we go along with Tesco’s aims we can only have an effect on 16% of waste.
The aims of this venture are part of the need to supply the increasing world population with food in the coming years, this of course is a separate exercise that has been widely discussed and umpteen papers published by all and sundry over some years, there is no lack of agricultural land to feed the burgeoning world population, just the management will to use the land for food production by all the countries that are supposedly at risk.
So back to the 16%, this is Tesco’s slant on the consumer part:
To tackle household waste, we are working with partners including the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) to conduct customer research aimed at developing our understanding of the underlying causes of food waste in the home and how we can help our customers to waste less. As part of this work, we are working to improve how we display date codes on our products.
In addition, we are developing a total food waste measure for each of the food items most regularly sold in our stores. This will allow us to prioritise our efforts and track our progress in reducing the wastage of these products.
Doesn’t tell you much and when directed to the Tesco real food website, we are given the usual ‘tips’ as to save money and stop wastage we have been given for years, i.e. freeze leftovers, how to use stale bread, soups from everything and so on, all very admirable but hardly earth shattering and not likely to make much impact on world food “poverty”, in fact nothing regarding consumer habits here really will.
The bit that raises an eyebrow is that to the cynic in me, is the intention to remove sell by dates, to use smaller baskets of displays of fresh items and to reduce the variety on display of all perishable goods?
Now hang on a minute – smaller baskets, surely all that will mean is they have to be replenished more often instore, it will not reduce food waste unless I’m missing something, less choice, well that will, yes, mean less waste by the nature of offerings being limited but ii’s not the mantra of supermarkets offering ‘less’ choice, and will make no difference to what happens at home.
The other wheeze is to stop offering salad products as offers, in particular the ready salads in bags and to stop offering the larger ‘family’ packs so only the small packs (less waste) will be on display.
Anyone checked the price of salad products in bags?
This morning in my driving Miss Daisy role, I saw the salad packs at 80gms were a pound and the 200gms packs were £1.50. I smell a very large profit increase in that change, and if families need more than 80gms, it will cost them even more. Why not by a lettuce and do it yourself and save waste?
Doesn’ t hold up in the waste stakes either – if there are only two of you, then as with so much else, the smaller offerings that were always very expensive, such as the small salad packs, have all but disappeared and if in the interests of stopping waste they came back – the weekly shop would rise.
I find it difficult to believe that waste is really the point of all this. Tesco have had a blip in performance (maybe more than a blip) and any do-gooding front page headlines is all good publicity.
Almost nothing they are intending to do will change the starving or malnourished in third world countries but it will improve their bottom line.