Tesco is promising to take further packaging out of its fruit and vegetable supply chain this year.
The supermarket’s fresh produce category director Darren Clough, speaking at Fruitnet World of Fresh Ideas in Berlin this month, said that while he agreed packaging has an important role to play in extending shelf life and enhancing product quality, there is currently “way too much packaging on fresh produce”.
Citing Tesco’s commitment to ensure all of its packaging is recyclable or compostable by 2025, Clough said much more is on the cards this year. “It’s got to be commercially viable, but absolutely there are a number of things we are going to be doing. We are going to be setting our specifications to align our producers to the right types of materials – getting rid of PVC, black plastic etc.
“We are also going to try to minimise the amounts being used, and there are some great examples of where we are going to take some iconic lines in the next six to 12 months and significantly reduce the amount of packaging or remove it completely. It’s a big opportunity.”
In a wide-ranging discussion on sustainability and waste reduction in the fresh produce supply chain, Clough said Tesco has many longstanding relationships with suppliers, and wants to work more closely with the best of them going forward. "We have to be leaner, we have to be more collaborative, we have to understand each other’s business a lot more," he explained. "We are going to have to work with fewer and better partners, and reward the people who do make the investments and the commitments."
Those rewards include long-term contracts, as well as full-crop utilisation projects such as the initiative which sees Branston putting surplus potatoes into ready meals, supplied to the supermarket by Samworths.
And closer worker meant a new way of collaborating on things such as forecasting, Clough added."First and foremost we’ve made sure we have more open dialogue with our producers," he said. "We’ve taken on board and worked towards one forecast, so everybody is working to one number. We’ve actually taken on board and integrated some of our supply partners, their capability and expertise. We’ve now got six people from our suppliers that sit in our office and help construct the order. We’ve upweighted the trade plan, so again we can do more crop flushes when it’s available."
To read the full interview with Darren Clough, see FPJ, out Friday 23rd February.