Tens of thousands of ‘Food Waste Hero’ volunteers have now stopped more than 30 million meals from going to waste, thanks to a pioneering partnership between Tesco and the leading free sharing app Olio.
Olio’s network of 80,000 volunteers collect surplus food still fit for consumption from Tesco stores in their local community. They then take it back to their homes and immediately list items on the Olio app, ready to be re-distributed for free, to those living nearby. Local people can then request items via Olio’s app, and pick them up from an agreed collection point.
In August 2020, Tesco became the first supermarket to partner with Olio, making sure its unsold surplus food reaches people across local communities, rather than going to waste. In the first year alone, Olio and Tesco saved 5.8 million meals from being wasted. The partnership has continued to go from strength to strength, with hundreds of thousands of people benefitting from the 30 million meals worth of Tesco meals that’s been shared so far.
Speaking about the partnership, Olio Food Waste Hero Andrea Teixeira, who collects from three Tesco stores in Wiltshire, said: “I became a Food Waste Hero after using Olio myself, I wanted to help more people stop food from going to waste and save money. I love Olio’s partnership with Tesco. After collecting from stores for 5 months now, I have seen first-hand how it’s having a vast impact in our community and helping both families and the environment. Since starting as a Food Waste Hero, I have redistributed over 3,700 meals – it’s such an incredible feeling to see those meals go to people who really appreciate them.”
The partnership builds on Tesco’s existing food surplus donations programme, including its Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare, which has been running since 2016. FareShare supports frontline charities and community groups working with children – from summer holiday clubs and breakfast clubs to community kitchens, and groups which supply food parcels to those facing food insecurity. Olio is able to plug the gaps by collecting items that FareShare is unable to redistribute, ensuring minimal food waste occurs at Tesco stores.
Kené Umeasiegbu, Campaigns Director at Tesco, said:“It’s an enormous achievement to have diverted 30 million meals to those who need it most, as part of our partnership with Olio. We’ve been able to do this thanks to the efforts of Tesco colleagues and Olio’s team of Food Waste Heroes.”
“At Tesco, we are working hard to make sure that no food fit for human consumption goes to waste. That’s why our partnerships with organisations like Olio and Fareshare are so important, helping us to divert surplus food to people in our communities.”
Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of Olio said: “We are overjoyed that our partnership with Tesco has now resulted in 30 million meals saved, and that those meals have impacted the lives of so many families up and down the UK. We’re really grateful to our volunteers, who have been so crucial to the success of our founding partnership with Tesco. We’re proud to be working with a true pioneer in the retail sector.”
“That said, there’s so much more the sector can do to fight food waste. We hope the success of our partnership with Tesco pushes other businesses to consider how they can take a more proactive approach to minimising waste, supporting local communities and ultimately mitigating against the worst effects of climate change.”
Tesco has led the way in tackling food waste in its own operations and customers’ homes. In 2013 Tesco became the first UK retailer to voluntarily publish its food waste data. In September last year, Tesco announced it would be accelerating its plans to halve food waste in operations, bringing the commitment deadline forward from 2030 to 2025. In 2022, Tesco also launched its Use Up Day campaign to encourage customers to reduce food waste at home, by using up any food they already have before doing their weekly shop.
In 2022, Olio rolled out its new Multi-Collector and Waitlist programmes across the Tesco Group, working in partnership with charities to help Tesco redistribute even more surplus food for human consumption. Olio also has exciting plans for expansion in 2023 – including further growth across the UK retail, hospitality and catering sectors, and building on its international expansion efforts across the globe.