The chief executive of Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) is to launch a major campaign against food waste this week, saying that the scale of the problem is “breathtaking” and that every family wastes £700 a year throwing away food.
In a major move aimed at showing that Tesco can use its scale to create social change, Philip Clarke will say that it is important that the supermarket promotes a new image to its customers. Food will come in smaller sizes, and food promotions will be tailored to stop encouraging people to buy large amounts of food with a short shelf life.
The food waste initiative is part of the Tesco and Society campaign, to be launched with a major report this week.
The study will lay out a series of targets on food waste, creating opportunities for young people and healthy eating. It will also commit the retailer to publish Clubcard figures on how “healthy” the average shop is and on reducing food waste.
“When many people in the world think that big is bad, we are setting out to prove that big can be good,” Mr Clarke said. “We’ve given ourselves a new value, that scale can be good.”
Mr Clarke’s move follows the horsemeat scandal, which saw the whole supermarket sector criticised for failures in its supply chain , which allowed contaminated food to enter products. Tesco has also been attacked for its size in the UK and for threatening traditional high streets with out-of-town hypermarkets. Mr Clarke has already called for an end to the building “space race”.
“The volume of food wasted every year is simply breathtaking,” Mr Clarke writes in the Sunday Telegraph today.
“The best estimate is around a third of the world’s food is lost or wasted.
“Here in the UK, the average family wastes nearly £700 a year by throwing out food they don’t eat. The fact that waste costs British families a holiday, or half their total annual gas and electricity bill, is concern enough. But there’s a much bigger issue for our planet, too. Demand for food and the pressure on the world’s natural resources will keep growing.
“All the while, we’re putting the planet under further unnecessary pressure by wasting billions of tonnes of food each year. None of us can afford the current levels of waste to continue.”
Mr Clarke said it was important that supermarkets used their data to understand consumers and encourage them to behave differently.
“It may sound counter-intuitive for Tesco to help our customers reduce the amount of food they waste, because it is likely to involve reducing the volume of food they buy. And I understand some people might be sceptical hearing it from a supermarket CEO. But the issue we are trying to solve is a long-term risk.
He added: “Tesco, like any business, does not stand apart from society.”