Why Tesco’s food waste drive isn’t about creating a competitive advantage

Tesco is dialing up the attention around the issue of food waste with the launch of a new campaign that amplifies its ambitions. However the brand insists that despite the strategy saving the business money and painting it in a positive light, the retailer isn’t pursuing the activity to gain a “competitive advantage”.

Why Tesco’s food waste drive isn’t about creating a competitive advantage

The ‘No Time For Waste’ advert is being published across national, trade and stakeholder media over the next two weeks and sets out Tesco’s commitment to tackling food waste. This includes its goal that ‘no food that’s safe for human consumption will go to waste from our UK operations by the end of 2017’.

Speaking to press on a conference call earlier this week to discuss the findings of a new report laying out the business case for reducing waste by Champions 12.3, a coalition dedicated to accelerating progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Target, Tesco chief executive and Champions 12.3 chair Dave Lewis, said that reducing waste should be an industry wide effort and that in doing so the supermarket chain isn’t looking to stay ahead of the competition, but provide consumers with the trust that they deserve.

“This [tackling waste] is not a new move, what it is it to pick that up and push it further… We have to behave differently. Tesco got itself into a very difficult space as you know, but we see a different way of pushing and challenging ourselves a little bit more. We have been talking to the industry both globally and in the UK and this is not something we see as a competitive advantage, it’s something the industry should do because economically and socially it is the right thing to do.

“Consumers need to have trust in the business behind the brand, they want to know we behave responsibly on their behalf. If we are purpose driven it builds trust but it is exactly what a customer in any market should expect from a business like ours.”

To illustrate this Lewis said that Tesco is giving the industry access to its food redistribution model, which is currently being rolled out to all its UK stores, and uses technology called FoodCloud with FareShare to donate edible surplus food to people in need. Charities are able to see what food is available at the end of the day and are invited to come and collect it. Over six million meals of surplus food have now been provided by Tesco to its charity partners.

Tesco has also focused much of its efforts to date on the way it sources its food, working closely with its farmers, growers and suppliers to reduce waste where it occurs.

A first for the retailer, the campaign will appear as a full-page print advert featuring four images that showcase Tesco’s commitment to reducing waste wherever it occurs, ‘from farm to fork’. The ad features Usha Patel, a Brixton store member of staff, and Ace of Clubs, a charity which benefits from Tesco’s Community Food Connection initiative.

Tesco worked with retained agency BBH to develop the creative for the campaign, and media agency MediaCom to execute delivery.

The campaign will be supported by targeted social media activity led by Tesco.

The findings of the report will be published on 6 March.

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