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Major supermarkets account for 1.3% of UK food waste

The UK’s seven major supermarkets were responsible for just 1.3% of all food waste thrown away in the UK in 2013, according to a report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

This is the first time a combined figure on the total amount of food wasted across the whole supply chain has been released. It uses data from seven major supermarkets, independently collated by WRAP. The industry will continue to report these figures on an annual basis.

The seven retailers that signed up to the BRC’s ‘A Better Retailing Climate’ initiative make up 87.3% of the UK grocery market. They are:

  • Asda
  • The Co-operative Food
  • M&S
  • Morrisons
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Tesco
  • Waitrose

The figures show that very little food waste comes from supermarkets and their depots. Half of the 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK each year is generated in the home, while only 200,000 tonnes (1.3%) comes from retailers, according to WRAP.

The seven retailers have agreed voluntary targets on reducing food and packaging waste through the Courtauld Commitments, also co-ordinated by WRAP.

There was a 10% reduction in food and drink waste by grocery retailers and manufacturers between 2007 and 2012, WRAP estimated.

Supermarkets are also part of WRAP’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, which targets consumers. The grocery industry is also working with farmers and producer groups to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture.

Andrew Opie, BRC director of food and sustainability, said: “Our members are pleased to introduce new levels of transparency into the supply chain and today’s figures tell a positive story about the vast efforts grocery retailers have made to reduce their food waste.

“At the same time we all need to continue to focus on where we can make the biggest reductions in food waste, and that is in the supply chain and the home. We have a huge contribution to make and will continue our work with suppliers and consumers to build on the progress we have already made.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • 200,000 tonnes of food waste is still a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers.

    The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables new food waste reduction applications that offer relevant, environmentally friendly and personalized grocery deals.

    The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

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