Waste, especially food waste is something that our customers care about and has long been a focus for us. Through our Waste less, Save more initiative we have an ambitious goal to help households reduce their food waste by 50% which means a saving of £350 a year* for every household. However more than ever, our customers want to know what we’re doing to ensure food doesn't go to waste.
As I wrote about a while ago and back in 2012, ‘ugly’ fruit and veg isn’t new to us. During 2012 our British farmers and growers faced a really challenging summer due to the adverse weather which affected crops such as potatoes and apples. Apart from these exceptions, if the crop meets the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) marketing standards which sets the grading guidelines there is a place for it in our supply chain. Our specifications for produce sold loose or bagged have been developed to ensure that we offer high quality products that meet our customers’ expectations and we use our three tiers of own brand to utilise the crop across basics, by Sainsbury’s and Taste the Difference.
When there is excess crop we work with our suppliers and growers to encourage them to use the crops in other beneficial ways. For example apple juice or ready-made mashed potato and our increasingly popular ‘boodles’ product which are Butternut Squash Noodles, are made from squash that would not meet the standards to be sold as whole. This is paramount to our mission to help growers to run a sustainable and successful business.
It is important we continue to invest time and resource to help our growers to produce crops that meets customer needs while keeping waste at field level to a minimum. This is crucial to the future success of growers’ businesses. For example, we are developing a model with a salad supplier which will give us a precise crop schedule which changes according to the climate. And, through a separate project we are closely monitoring the growth stages of potatoes to then predict yield. This allows us to plan availability much better and then in turn reduce waste. We are also in the first year of our farming scholarship programme which focuses on soil health.
Finally, we have phased out ‘multi-buy’ and ‘mix and match’ promotions across our fruit and vegetable products, in favour of lower regular prices for customers. This not only is good for customers, helping them to reduce waste in home, it is also of significant benefit to our growers as it avoids peaks and troughs in demand. This is a fundamental change to create a steady flow of production.
Judith Batchelar: Director of Sainsbury’s Brand
*Wrap research based on a household with children