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Leon Kaye headshot

Day Old Bread, Another Front in the Food Waste Battle

Where does all that excess bread at bakeries go at the end of the day? In the U.K., some of it is going into Tesco bakeries' crostini and bread pudding.
By Leon Kaye
Day Old Bread

So where does all that excess bread at bakeries go at the end of the day? Some bakeries mark it down the last hour of business or sell it on the cheap the next day. Naturally, one answer to the question of what to do with unwanted bread would be donating it to local food banks and charities – but logistics and local regulations can often get in the way.

Well, across the pond in the United Kingdom, the country’s largest supermarket chain is using day-old bread the way enterprising chefs amongst us have been doing all along – use it to make more food products. And therein lies a new take on the circular economy!

Tesco announced earlier this week that its unwanted baguettes will be churned into other products to be sold at its bakeries. For now, the company will start by making olive oil crostini in addition to one of the best possible desserts one can make – the legendary carbohydrate bomb, bread pudding (shown above).

According to Tesco, if this development ends up being successful, it could be rolled out across all of its U.K. stores. Unwanted bread accounts for a significant part of the supermarket chain’s food waste, but the company envisions that these new food products could cut bakeries’ food waste by 40 percent from current levels.

For now, this crostini and bread pudding experiment will be tested in 24 locations. The price certainly seems appealing for consumers – the crostini will cost about $1 (80p) and the bread pudding will set you back about $1.60 (£1.25). Now for those of you who wonder what will happen to that unsold crostini and bread pudding at the end of the day, we’ll say fair enough, but let’s give Tesco a break . . . and we can follow up once other supermarket chains launch similar programs.

Decadent bread pudding and crispy crostini certainly sound like better options than the 67,500 metric tons of food waste Tesco tossed in 2015 – and one third of that was from bakery products.

Obviously, this move can pay off for Tesco, as now the company can check more boxes on its environmental street cred checklist. But there are lessons for consumers as well – as in remembering that leftovers from last night’s dinner don't have to be microwaved, or more likely, tossed a few days later after they've been forgotten. Rather, that dinner can be folded into the next day’s breakfast or dinner.

Tesco insists this program is adding to the company’s success in taking on its pesky food waste problem. In a recent report, the company said it had donated 63 percent more food compared to last year, and now it is 80 percent towards its goal of having no food safe for human consumption going to waste.

Image credit: Tesco

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye