Grocery giant Tesco is launching an initiative to keep popular fruit and vegetables fresher for an extra two days in an effort to cut food waste.

According to reports, changes in Tesco’s supply chain to remove a food packaging stage mean that fresh produce such as oranges, tomatoes, peppers and lemons will stay fresher for longer. 

The new scheme is part of an ongoing programme at the supermarket group to cut food waste at its stores, which Tesco admitted was around 54,000 tonnes last year. A review of its supply chain identified ways of working directly with producers to ensure fresh produce arrives in stores sooner.

Speaking to The Guardian, Matt Sinister, commercial director of food at Tesco, said: “For millions of our customers, this move will mean having up to an extra two days in which to enjoy some of the most popular fruit and vegetables. The extra days of freshness will particularly benefit customers who are pressed for time and will mean they are less likely to throw food away.”

The cost of waste

The government’s waste advisory body WRAP estimates that seven million tonnes of food is thrown away every year by British households, which costs the average family around £700 in terms of wasted spend and costs the country around £12.5bn.

Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food at WRAP, told The Guardian that even extending product life by one day could save up to 250,000 tonnes of food per year.

Campaigners have been calling on the grocery chains to give waste food to charity, after legislation was introduced on the issue in France.

Tesco is now working with Fareshare and FoodCloud to distribute waste food to people in need, while Marks & Spencer is also distributing waste food through charities, including food banks, via a scheme that uses social networking app Neighbourly.