Tesco has announced the nationwide rollout of an initiative designed to reduce the amount of food in its stores that goes to waste.
Community Food Connection with FareShare FoodCloud is being launched in 15 cities and areas including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Portsmouth.
Store managers use an app to alert charities daily about surplus food; an interested charity confirms it wants the food and picks it up free of charge.
It follows a trial which began at the Tesco Extra store at Surrey Quays, south London, last summer. Since then, 14 stores contributed more than 22 tonnes of food, the equivalent to 50,000 meals, during the past six months.
In the coming months the initiative will be rolled out to Leeds, Leicester, Kent and the West Midlands. Tesco has said it will reach all large Tesco stores – more than 800 – by the end of the year, with all stores covered by the end of 2017.
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 is an issue our customers really care about. Wherever there is surplus food at Tesco stores, we are 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.”
Beneficiaries of the charities receiving food come from the wide range of charities supported by FareShare including homeless hostels, women’s refuges and breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children.
Tesco says it is the only retailer to publish data about food waste from its own operations. Its latest figures show 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at UK stores and distribution centres in 2015, of which around 30,000 tonnes could have been eaten.