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Tesco's new platform enables 3,500 suppliers to sell their surplus crops, packaging & by-products

In the UK, over six billion meals' worth of edible food goes to waste before making it off farms. Every year. But it's not just edible crops that are squandered: food producers often end up with by-products, ingredients and packaging they can't use or don't need. To tackle that end of the waste problem, Tesco just launched a new online marketplace that matches suppliers who have goods they'd like to get rid of, with others who can use them.

Suppliers can advertise surplus stock for sale and post requests for anything they need. One of the first listings on Tesco Exchange was by G's Group, which makes pickled beetroots. Since the beetroots are peeled before pickling, the producer is left with tons of beetroot peelings that could be used as cattle feed by a livestock farm. 

The British supermarket chain works with over 3,500 suppliers, so Tesco Exchange has the potential to divert a significant amount of usable products out of waste streams. As Sarah Bradbury, Tesco Quality Director, points out: "Excess stock or waste for one supplier could be a valuable commodity to another. By linking different farmers, producers and manufacturers together, our suppliers can find new ways to trim their bills, reduce waste and keep delivering great value for our customers."

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Tesco Exchange is the latest in a series of efforts to tackle waste, which includes working with WWF to push for industry-wide improvements. For example, food waste on farms has historically been excluded from industry and government data. WWF and Tesco are calling for mandatory reporting, both to determine the scale of the problem and to inform policy decisions that can help farmers reduce waste.

Not too long ago, corporate lobbying — from big oil to big soda — was synonymous with bad outcomes for people and planet. But brands are increasingly using their clout to drive positive change instead. And every time they do, they're shifting consumer expectations and setting the bar higher for every other brand ;-)