LONDON, June 4 (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest supermarket chain Tesco is to introduce a pilot scheme at 10 of its UK stores to give away each day’s unsold food to charities such as women’s refuge centres and children’s breakfast clubs.
Tesco said around 30,000 tonnes of perishable food such as bread, fruit, vegetables and sandwiches had been thrown away at its stores and distribution centres over the past year.
British rivals Sainsbury’s and Morrisons already run similar schemes. Sainsbury’s has a network of over 300 stores connected to local charities making food collections.
Last month France cracked down on food waste with legislation banning big supermarkets from destroying unsold but edible food, threatening fines and even jail sentences.
Teaming up with UK and Irish food redistribution organisations, store managers will use an app to alert charities to the amount of surplus food available each day and will hand it over for free to those able to collect it.
Britain has 445 foodbanks, according to The Trussell Trust charity, and distributed emergency food to almost 1.1 million people in 2014-15, up from 913,000 a year earlier. The rise has fuelled concern that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing even as the UK economy shows signs of improvement.
“This is potentially the biggest single step we’ve taken to cut food waste, and we hope it marks the start of eliminating the need to throw away edible food in our stores,” Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said on Thursday.
Tesco, which under Lewis is slashing prices and improving stores and service to try and revitalise sales hurt by pressure from discount rivals, already runs the scheme in Ireland.
Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Keith Weir