Approximately 1 million loaves of bread are discarded in homes across the United Kingdom every day, and close to one-third of the country’s annual total of retail food waste comes from excess baked goods, according to nonprofit Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
But Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket chain, is working on a solution to significantly reduce its food waste.
Starting next week, Tesco will use unsold, but still fresh baguettes and batons (a type of short baguette) to make other food products like olive crostini and bread pudding. The new initiative will be rolled out in 24 of Tesco's almost 4,000 stores across the UK. If implemented through all of the chain’s 7,000 stores worldwide, it is estimated that the effort would cut Tesco's amount of unsold bread products in half.
“This initiative from Tesco is an excellent example of a simple solution to a common problem,” David Moon, the head of business collaboration at WRAP, told the Guardian.
“Using surpluses in store to make a delicious new product saves good food from spoiling and reduces the cost of waste to the business,” he added.
Tesco already works to reduce the amount of surplus bread it wastes in a number of ways. While still fresh, the excess bread is sold at a reduced price, sent to food distribution charities, or sent out to be used in animal feed. Extra bread is also made free for the taking in Tesco’s staff shop.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), nearly 8.4 million people in the UK are faced with food insecurity. One in every 5 children in the country is impacted, UNICEF reported.
But, by reducing and redirecting food waste, Tesco and other food producers can help address hunger and protect the environment.
According to WRAP, bread is one of the most common food waste items generated by retailers and residents in the UK, and one of the most wasted products at every level of the supply chain.
Through Tesco’s various methods of redirecting its baked products away from becoming food waste, the company is now less than 20% away from achieving its goal of generating zero waste from food safe for human consumption, it said.
And with the company’s new initiative, it is likely to get even closer to fulfilling that goal in the coming months.