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Tesco now eases French beans export rules

Farmers harvesting French beans. PHOTO | FILE
Farmers harvesting French beans. UK-based supermarket giant Tesco is set to ease its rules on what sort of green (French) beans it will import from Kenya in a move expected to cut waste by nearly a fifth. PHOTO | FILE 

The UK-based supermarket giant Tesco is set to ease its rules on what sort of green (French) beans it will import from Kenya in a move expected to cut waste by nearly a fifth.

The retailer says its new initiative will save 135 tonnes of edible fine bean crop from going to waste each year and should ease the burden facing Kenyan growers trying to produce beans to a specifically small-size range.

Until recently, Kenyan growers were required to deliver fine beans within a specific size range and to trim them before being packed and shipped to the UK. This move was originally made as a convenience measure to help customers, but after listening to them Tesco found they’d prefer the beans uncut.

So as part of an ongoing review of its food sourcing policy, Tesco has widened the length specifications and stopped the trimming procedure, resulting in the huge saving of previously wasted stuff.

Tesco commercial director for fresh food Matt Simister said: “This new partnership with our growers in Kenya is a great example of how we are delivering on that promise to customers while also ensuring we prevent food that could be eaten, going to waste.

“Our overall aim is to use as much of the edible crop as possible. In some cases, we believe that our specifications—such as with the fine beans—can be widened to accommodate more of the crop. “If there is a surplus, we will work with suppliers to find an outlet – for example, by connecting our growers with our fresh and frozen suppliers for it to be used in foods such as ready meals.”

As a result of the new measures being adopted, 15 per cent of the bean will no longer go to waste. A spokesman for Tesco – which used to operate a number of chains in Kenya until 2007 – was unable to give an exact figure for the amount of beans the company imported from Kenya each year but did say that the bean market was worth nearly £40 million to Kenyan farmers each year.

Kenya makes up 60 per cent of the world-wide total of imported green beans. The UK supermarket says it is also restructuring the way it orders from suppliers in Kenya.

“We’ve also improved how we forecast and order to help producers cut down on waste by only growing and harvesting what is required,” Matt Simister said.

“In the case of Kenyan fine bean growers we have overhauled the ordering process. This means the beans can be sent straight to our distribution centres, cutting time out of the supply chain and providing customers with a fresher product.”

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