Tesco commits to redistributing all food waste to charities by end of 2017
Tesco has committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of next year under an initiative it hopes will involve 5,000 local charities and groups.
The UK's biggest grocery chain said the plan followed a "farm to fork" commitment to tackle food waste from its suppliers, through stores and into customers' homes.
The retailer's latest figures show 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at its stores and distribution centres in the UK last year, of which around 30,000 tonnes could otherwise have been eaten - equivalent to around 70 million meals.
The plan is a nationwide roll-out of a 14-store pilot called the Community Food Connection, which over the last six months has generated more than 22 tonnes of food, the equivalent of 50,000 meals.
It operates by using a digital open platform called FareShare FoodCloud that allows store staff and charities to liaise to distribute surplus food.
It launches in 15 cities and regions this week, including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Portsmouth, and will cover all stores by the end of 2017.
Tesco and FareShare are appealing for 5,000 charities and community groups t o join up and receive the food.
Tesco is also calling on other retailers to adopt FareShare FoodCloud to create an industry-wide platform.
The initiative also includes the launch of a new "Perfectly Imperfect" range of so-called wonky vegetables that previously may have been thrown away and will be on sale at low prices, in line with several other grocers.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: "We believe no food that could be eaten should be wasted. That's why we have committed that no surplus food should go to waste from our stores.
"We know it's an issue our customers really care about, and wherever there's surplus food at Tesco stores, we're committed to donating it to local charities so we can help feed people in need.
"But we know the challenge is bigger than this and that's why we've made a farm to fork commitment to reduce food waste upstream with our suppliers and in our own operations and downstream in our customers' own homes."
FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: "We are delighted to be offering our store level solution in partnership with Tesco who are demonstrating real leadership in tackling food surplus.
"FareShare FoodCloud is a natural extension of our work together which has already provided nine million meals to help feed vulnerable people."