Covid provides chance to cut food waste, says Tesco boss

24 September 2020

Firms have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to tackle food waste while supply chains have been brought to the forefront due to Covid-19, according to Tesco boss. 

Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco, called on firms and countries to take action to halve global food waste by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

Writing in The Guardian, Lewis said: “Covid-19 has brought this issue into sharp focus in every country around the world. Governments are thinking about how to make supply chains more resilient and consumers are rethinking the value of food.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle food waste and, in doing so, help to change the course of the global climate emergency. Companies and countries talk about building back better. Now is the time to put that into action.”

It is estimated that a third of the food produced for human consumption each year is wasted or lost. For fruits and vegetables, around 45% are lost or wasted.

Lewis’ comments come as it was revealed nearly 200 food suppliers to some of the world’s largest global retailers have committed to reducing food waste in their own operations by 50%.

Suppliers also pledged to measure and publish their food loss and waste inventories, and to take action to reduce their waste.

The suppliers were approached as part of the “10x20x30” initiative launched by Champions 12.3, a coalition of leaders from government, business and campaign groups aiming to tackle food waste.

Under the initiative, 10 food retailers and providers – Aeon, Ahold Delhaize, Carrefour, Ikea Food, Kroger, Metro AG, Migros (Turkey), Pick n Pay, The Savola Group, Sodexo, Tesco, and Walmart – committed to engaging at least 20 suppliers, asking them to commit to halving food loss and waste by 2030.  

The group represents six of the world’s largest food retailers, the second largest food service provider and leading food retailers in southern Africa, the Middle East, and Japan. 

Lewis, who is chair of the coalition, said: “The environmental, business and moral case for tackling food waste is undeniable. We need more companies to target, measure and act on food waste and publish their data if the world is to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

“The good news is action is replacing talk. 10x20x30 is a great example of how companies are working in partnership with food suppliers to tackle this issue from farm to fork and I now urge others to follow their example.”

Jane Ewing, senior VP of sustainability at Walmart, added: “Cutting food loss and waste in half – from farm to fork – by 2030 will require ambitious, collective action. The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training stakeholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste.”

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