UK potato supplier Branston has opened a GBP5m (US$6.1m) prepared potato factory extension at its site in Lincolnshire as part of an initiative with retailer Tesco to reduce food waste.

Branston said the facility peels “visually imperfect but entirely edible potatoes”, which are then supplied to convenience food producer Samworth Brothers, which produces a range of Tesco’s ready meals.

Head of commercial at Samworth Brothers Georgia Hunn said the initiative “enables us to utilise the full crop of potato, reducing waste and improving stability of price in the market place”.

Producing around 3,500 tonnes of potatoes each week for sale in Tesco stores across the UK, the new factory expansion includes the introduction of two new batch peeling lines, which Branston said makes it one of the largest peeling and processing facilities in the UK.

Branston’s managing director James Truscott said: “Our relationship with Tesco is hugely important to the business and its commitment to reducing waste is a shared goal. This exciting new development enables us to play our part, whilst improving quality and freshness for customers.

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Truscott said: “The new state-of-the-art peelers have the capacity to cope with potatoes of all shapes and sizes – the wonky veg – which can be used to supply Samworth Brothers to make mashed potatoes for its range of Tesco ready meals. Working in partnership adds value to all three businesses. We have to continually modernise and adapt to the evolving food industry in order to have a sustainable business.”

Tesco’s commercial director for fresh food Matt Simister said: “Our long history of partnering with Branston, has helped to provide the confidence potato growers and the whole potato industry need to invest and innovate for the future.”

“With thousands of people across the UK having to use food banks every day, at Tesco we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce food waste with everything we grow and sell,” Simister said. “This new partnership between Branston and Samworth and new facility means that in addition to our Farms Brands and Perfectly Imperfect ranges, we will be able to use up to 95% of our growers’ crops and save edible produce from being wasted.”
Branston said it also uses waste potatoes to generate 40% of the Fresh Potato site’s electricity through its on-site anaerobic digestion plant, with the remaining digestate used by local farms as fertiliser. The company, which has three sites in the UK, has been supplying potatoes to Tesco for more than 25 years.