Britain’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, will donate unsold food from 10 of their UK stores to women’s shelters and children’s breakfast programs. Tesco’s announcement came just a few days after the world learned that France would require all supermarkets there to donate unsold food to charity, instead of letting it go to waste. The big difference is that nobody is forcing Tesco to adopt this practice, and they aren’t the first chain in the UK to make a move like this.
Turning would-be waste into donations is the first step in a larger strategy by the grocery chain to fight food waste. Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis told Reuters, “This is potentially the biggest single step we’ve taken to cut food waste. We hope it marks the start of eliminating the need to throw away edible food in our stores.” Tesco will start with 10 UK stores offering unsold food to charity programs, but they consider this to be a pilot program, which suggests they might expand to include more.
Tesco is already running this program throughout their stores in Ireland. Other British supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Morrisons also have similar agreements in place to divert unsold food to charity organizations.
Throughout Europe, it’s clear that there is a trend away from wasting food. A 2013 World Bank report revealed that nearly one-third of all food produced in the world was going to waste, and that staggering figure has inspired many people to become more conscious of their personal consumption and food waste habits. However, the global problem of wasted food isn’t one that can be solved only by changes in the lives of individuals. Corporations, like Tesco, that bet their bottom lines on moving food should also take this problem seriously.