Our food waste
You might be surprised to learn that supermarkets generate very little food waste from their stores and depots. Recent figures show that in 2013, only 1.3% of all food waste came from the main supermarkets. This is because the only food that we waste is that which we are unable to sell. We have lots of processes in place to minimise the amount of food that ends up as waste. For instance, we have our 'Still Fresh' policy in store, where we reduce the price of a product nearing its expiry date. These products are still safe to eat and of the quality that you expect. We are also making great strides in waste management, including a number of projects around redistribution, shelf life, cosmetics and packaging.
If a product still goes past its durability date in store, it is taken to a local depot where it’s sent to anaerobic digestion to produce energy and compost. None of our food waste is sent to landfill - it all goes to AD to produce energy and compost, and we continue to explore options to reduce any reliance on AD.
We have recently improved the way we redistribute surplus food from our depots to FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity who collect food destined for waste and send it to charities and community groups that turn it into nutritious meals for vulnerable people. We have an aim that in 2016 we will redistribute over 500 tonnes of food which works out at more than 1m meals to those in need.
We have worked with them for a number of years, but this is a step change which helps us reduce food waste and gets food to people that are in need.
We are committed to reducing the waste created by our 2,800-strong store estate, and are establishing a redistribution partner and process for achieving this.
We are also conducting a full review of the shelf-life of all of our products, to ensure they have the maximum life possible while maintaining the safety and quality our customers expect, using an evidence based approach. We are working with our suppliers and scientific advisors to explore a number of different avenues to extend the shelf life for different products. Use of skin packs and vacuum packs for steaks and beef joints extends the shelf life to 15 days from the six days with more conventional packaging. This is also used on lamb giving a shelf life of 10 days compared to the previous six days. This will save approximately 150 tonnes of food waste per year and means our customers have longer to enjoy the product at home.
It is extremely important for us to merchandise fresh produce which meets our customer quality expectations, is economically viable to produce and has the best environmental outcomes. In 2013 we relaxed the rules to allow smaller or misshapen, but great tasting, fruit and vegetables onto our shelves, including apples and potatoes, whilst continuing to remain competitive on price for our customers.