The chief of Tesco tells us that we really must do something about all this food waste. Well, maybe we should and maybe we shouldn’t. In order to decide upon whether – and if so what – we need to understand the facts of what is happening. The opening line from Dave Lewis here not being a good start:
As a society, we are converting more and more land to food production, with massive consequences for wildlife, water and forests.
That’s a factual statement that can be checked. So, is it true?
No, it is not true. Get rid of socialist idiocy, return to capitalist – kulak even – farming and we use substantially less land to feed ourselves. Interesting and not exactly an argument in favour of government intervention in farming.
Yet one third of all food produced is thrown away
That is true and yet there’s a subtlety that needs to be understood. It’s actually up to some 50% in those parts of the world that don’t have supermarkets. Because, when examined properly, a supermarket is really a logistics chain which gets food to humans to eat before it rots. In the absence of the chain much food rots before it is eaten.
Food waste is thus an argument in favour of Tesco – or its equivalent – expanding across India and Africa, the two places where this problem is most notable.
Recognising the scale of the problem, the United Nations included a food loss and waste reduction target in their suite of Sustainable Development Goals, approved five years ago this week. This target, SDG 12.3, calls on the world to halve per capita food waste by 2030. Once this target was set, a group of leaders asked how we could help motivate action to achieve it and Champions 12.3 was formed – a coalition of more than 30 senior leaders from governments, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, and civil society, dedicated to accelerating progress towards SDG 12.3
We are now only 10 years away from the 2030 deadline. In order to meet it, more must be done and with more urgency than ever before. That’s why Champions 12.3 is calling for every country and company involved in the food supply chain to commit to SDG 12.3. To quantify and report publicly on their food loss and waste. And, based on this, to take action. We call this the target, measure, act approach and we urge more governments and companies to adopt it as their own.
That’s not the solution, no.
Tesco was the first UK retailer to publish food waste data back in 2013 because we know that what gets measured, gets done. Since then we have started reporting food waste data for every one of the markets we operate in, cut 45,000 tonnes of food waste from our global operations and more than halved food waste in central Europe.
Just as importantly, our suppliers are helping us to cut waste from farm to fork. Seventy-one of our branded and own-label suppliers, including 11 of the world’s largest brands, are publishing food waste data alongside us. That includes 15 global suppliers who are reporting for their packhouses for the first time this year and have committed to extend their reporting to their farm operations next year. Collectively, they have cut more than 155,000 tonnes of waste from their operations in three years.
Nor is that. That’s all trivia. Nonsense in fact.
What is wasted in supermarket supply chains just isn’t the problem at all. Supermarkets – those logistics chains – are the solution.
The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of “primary product equivalents.” Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes.
Pissing about with 45,000 tonnes at Tesco is missing the point.
Developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle- and high-income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher.
Getting Tesco into developing countries is what will work.
Yet the CEO of Tesco spends his time micturating over trivia rather than expanding his own business to solve the problem? Sell Tesco, been taken over by idiots.