Tesco is measuring the full environmental impact of 20 popular foods.
The new metric is part of the retailer’s ambition to reduce the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket by 50%.
The foods – including fruit, meat, fish, snacks and drinks – will be assessed against seven criteria, each with its own weighting: climate change (25%); deforestation (20%); sustainable diets (15%); sustainable agriculture (12%); marine sustainability (10%); food waste (10%); and packaging waste (8%).
Each of the criteria also includes a number of sub-metrics. For instance, sustainable agriculture will include the percentage of farmers taking robust action to improve soil health and the number working to improve biodiversity and pollinators. The percentage of fresh produce from regions with sustainable water management and with “clear plans” to address agri-plastic pollution will also be factored in.
For each of the metrics there will be a baseline and a long-term target. Progress towards meeting these will be multiplied by a percentage weighting. For example, the metric relating to the percentage of South American soy from verified zero-deforestation areas has a weighting of 12%; so when 100% of South American soy coming from deforestation-free areas reaches the 100% target, Tesco will be 12% of the way towards halving the environmental impact of the average basket.
Tesco will run a first full assessment against the metric in early 2020 and publish the results.
Tesco launched the four-year project with WWF-UK in 2018. The NGO’s CEO Tanya Steele said the sustainable basket metric would help Tesco to fully understand the end-to-end sustainability impact of some of the most popular foods.
She added: “Food production is at the core of many of the environmental crises facing our planet – it’s the leading cause of tropical deforestation and is responsible for 24 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases. We want other retailers to take a similar approach and come together to ensure a more sustainable approach to food production.”