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Online supermarket Ocado achieves near-zero levels of food waste

The British firm said that 0.02% of food and drink was discarded last year, which is about just one in 6000 food items. 

Online supermarket Ocado has revealed near zero food waste figures, in what it says is the lowest in the industry.

The British firm said that 0.02% of food and drink was discarded last year, which is about just one in 6000 food items. 

“Our business model is built around efficiency and low waste,” said Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Ocado.

“By continually improving our technology, processes, and our relationships with suppliers, we’ve been able to reduce our food waste to practically zero – I believe we have the lowest total food waste figures in our industry. 

“Now we’re helping customers reduce their food waste at home too, by giving them more time to keep fresh food in the fridge.”

Ocado credited its efficient supply chain for the result and said that chilled food is constantly kept at the right temperature from supplier to the customer’s doorstep which helps to keep products fresher for longer. 

A recent chilled and bakery project by the supermarket also helped to increase product life for customers, giving them more time to use up food before the best before date. 

Known for its advanced technology offering, Ocado also said it used “bespoke software” which calculates how to pack items to reduce product damage and decrease food waste.”

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The British firm also said that it donated 2,200 tonnes of food and drinks in 2017 alone by developing relationships with food banks, charities, organisations and animal parks to distribute unsold produce. 

“Fresh products like meat or bakery items have a very short shelf life. We’ve been working hard with our suppliers and internally to help give customers more time at home to enjoy their food,” says Danny Kelly, Ocado Supply Chain Operations Manager.

“By testing and tweaking the packaging on our mince, for example, we’ve been able to promise customers an extra two days of shelf life in their fridge – that’s on top of the three days we already promise customers with our Product Life Guarantee for mince. By giving customers extra time on over 4,500 products, we hope to help them reduce food waste at home.”

Helen White, Special Advisor on Household Food Waste at WRAP, added: “Ocado’s approach to driving down food waste in their supply chain has resulted in impressively low food waste figures.

By guaranteeing product life, providing customers with clear information and using innovative packaging solutions they are helping us all to do our bit to drive down food waste too.

“At home, one of the main reasons for binning food is that we don’t use it in time; yet there are some really simple things we can all do, such as making sure we store our food in the best way, to making the most of the food we buy. And it all adds up.

"Currently the average family of four waste the equivalent to £60 worth of food, every month. Having the support of leading retailers, such as Ocado, is vital in the fight against food waste and crucial if we are to reduce the 7.3 million tonnes of food wasted every year from UK homes."

7.3mn tonnes of food and drink are binned every year in Britain and, with the help of many food waste charities, some of the UK's leading retailers have taken significant steps to reduce the amount of food and drink that goes to waste. 

In February, Tesco pledged to end edible food waste entirely, becoming one of the only UK retailers to do so.

Meanwhile, in December the Co-op said it was to be the first UK retailer to sell food past its ‘best before’ date.

Discount retailer Aldi UK and Ireland and premium foods firm Cranswick also both pledged to halve their food waste by 2030.
 

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