Figures revealed by Tesco indicate 68% of all salad grown for bagged salad ends up being wasted, with 35% of that waste occurring at home.
As a result, the supermarket giant has committed to ending multi-buy promotions, such as buy-one-get-one-frees (bogofs) for bagged salads, which it claims help create waste, instead moving to mix-and-match offers.
However, in statements sent to FoodManufacture.co.uk, Sainsbury claimed it made the same move a year ago and Waitrose indicated it had also followed the same course for some time.
“We stopped ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ promotions on produce over a year ago, when we began offering ‘mix & match’ across our produce range, which allows customers to receive the value of a multi-buy without causing waste,” said a spokeswoman for Sainsbury.
A spokeswoman for Waitrose said: “We focus our special offers for short life goods, such as fruit and vegetables, through 'mix and match' promotions so customers can choose a selection of produce and not end up with too much of the same thing.”
‘Waved goodbye to bogofs’
And a spokeswoman for Asda said it had “waved goodbye to bogofs” in 2008, while Morrisons claims it applies a sensible approach to promotions to minimise waste.
Sainsbury, Asda and Waitrose confirmed they had eliminated all food waste going to landfill last year. Details were unavailable from Morrisons as this article was published.
Sainsbury said it sent all surplus food to local charities and had donated more than 10M meals to over 400 UK charities last year. Asda launched a similar scheme with charity Fareshare earlier this year and Waitrose said it engaged in parallel initiatives.
All three retailers said they either turned the remaining food into energy through anaerobic digestion, if inedible, or sent it for use as animal feed.
Other waste-reducing schemes launched by Waitrose included developing smaller packs of salad for its convenience stores, which cut the amount of unsold bagged salad by one third, slashing waste by 80% in some cases.
The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has continuously worked with all major supermarket chains and food and drink manufacturers to reduce supply chain waste and plans to report on progress next month.
First major retailer to publish total food waste figures
WRAP commended Tesco for being the first major UK retailer to publish its own total food waste figures.
WRAP director Richard Swannell said: “We welcome Tesco’s approach to tackling food waste across their whole supply chain, and by identifying the hot spots, they can tackle these areas effectively.
“Food waste is a global issue and collaborative action is essential if we are to successfully reduce food waste and reap the financial and environmental benefits of doing so.”
Tesco said its announcement today was just the beginning. Other initiatives included developing new varieties of grapes with longer lives, launching a temperature control system enabling bananas to last longer in transit and cutting waste in its bakeries.
It has also removed ‘display until’ dates from its fresh fruit and vegetables and was working to cultivate more pest- and disease-resistant apple varieties, it said.
These efforts have been prompted by further figures from the supermarket chain indicating 40% of its apples, just under half of all its bakery items, 25% of its grapes and 20% of its bananas are wasted.
Tesco estimated that 28,500t of food waste was generated in its stores and distribution centres this year.