Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Tesco blames consumers for rise in food waste

January 2014

Tesco, one of the UK supermarket chains accused of food waste, has heaped some of the blame on customers for shunning perfectly edible fruit and vegetables because they were “ugly or misshapen”.

Matt Simister, Tesco’s food sourcing director, said his group wanted to educate British shoppers to realise that “wonky” carrots or marked apples can be acceptable food.

He told a UK parliamentary sub-committee on food waste: “Customers naturally select. They always pick the cream of crop first, and the rest of it then gets left.

“Then the new deliveries come in and you have the new cream of the crop. The old, ugly misshapen goes to waste. Customers will always make the choice of the one that cosmetically looks better. That’s a very difficult reality to us.”

Conservative MP Laura Sandys, who formed the Ugly Food company in 2012 to raise awareness of waste, retorted: “I cannot believe the audacity of Tesco to accuse hard-pressed consumers of generating food waste. Supermarkets need to be better at marketing ugly food and stop blaming consumers.”

Tesco says it will now put misshapen fruit and vegetables on sale as special offers.

In October the company revealed that it generated almost 30,000 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013. It said 68% of its bagged salad is thrown out, 35% of it in the home.

Tesco | UK & NI Ireland | Consumer attitudes


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