EACH year an estimated 10m tonnes of food is needlessly thrown away in the UK, worth a total of £17bn.
In a bid to address the figure, supermarket chain Asda has developed a new app that provides a platform for suppliers to buy and sell unwanted food to help address the challenge of food waste in its supply chain.
Thought to be a first for the industry, Asda Surplus Swap has been launched this week following a similar model to that of Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.
It allows suppliers to offer unwanted product, for example left over ingredients, finished product or vegetable trimmings, to other suppliers who will be able to make use of it. The details and images are uploaded onto the app and any supplier that is interested in using the product can reach out directly and arrange the purchase
The app was launched the Leeds-based supermarket chain’s annual Sustain and Save Exchange (SSE) Conference, which brought together more than 450 suppliers to celebrate success and discuss the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.
Charlotte Cool, Asda’s vice president of corporate affairs, said: “Wrap estimates that across the UK around 45 per cent of food waste comes from the supply chain, so this industry leading app will give our suppliers the opportunity to redistribute excess food that would otherwise go in the bin.
“Our suppliers are extremely engaged in sharing best practice and ideas with each other - we’ve had of some really innovative partnerships created by our SSE Network, driving efficiencies and best practice, and wanted to go even further this year.”
Asda’s subsidiary business, IPL, was the first supplier to sign up to the new app and has identified plums, peaches and apricots which could be of use to other suppliers.
Ms Cool said: “We know our customers and suppliers care about food waste, and so do we, which is why we have committed to doubling our food redistribution by 2020.
“But there is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in addressing this challenge so we refuse to be complacent – our aim is to have an end to end approach to food waste and we will continue to find new ways to combat the issue to ensure we reach our target.”
The retailer has built up a strong reputation of working with suppliers directly to support sustainability. It follows last year’s extension of the SSE scheme, which now includes all food and drink suppliers, providing access to an online community sharing information and inspiring ideas, as well as sharing best practice, to increase resource efficiency.
Surplus Swap has already received praise from suppliers and industry.
Ivor Lyons, director at Jumpin’ Juice, said: “The app is a great idea because it will allow purchasers to locate out-graded fresh produce and ingredients from the supply chain that could still be utilised for food and drink production. A major benefit will be having the availability of produce information in one central place, rather than the daily need to communicate with different sites.
Dr David Moon, Head of Food Sustainability, at WRAP, said: “Our evidence indicates there is significant potential to increase the amount redistributed by food manufacturers. In food retail, Asda and other supermarkets are already making big strides in redistributing their own surplus; so I am delighted to see this innovative approach to helping suppliers make best use of surpluses elsewhere in the food chain.
“Asda are a signatory to the Courtauld Commitment 2025, and such action is a great example of leadership.”
Owned by Walmart, Asda is signed up to its parent’s target of providing products that sustain people and the planet and has a target to send zero waste to landfill by 2025.