Tesco has raised the stakes in attempts by British supermarkets to cut food waste and feed the hungry.
The UK's biggest grocery chain has committed to sending no surplus food to waste by the end of next year under an initiative it hopes will involve 5,000 local charities and groups.
The retailer's latest figures show 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at its stores and distribution centres in the UK last year, of which around 30,000 tonnes could otherwise have been eaten - equivalent to around 70 million meals, The Press Association reports.
The commitment is the latest in grocers' escalating efforts to help charities help those in need by no longer wasting perfectly edible food because it is deemed unsuitable for sale.
Tesco's plan is a nationwide roll-out of a 14-store pilot called the Community Food Connection, which over the last six months has generated more than 22 tonnes of food, the equivalent of 50,000 meals.
Tesco threw away the equivalent of 70 million edible meals in the last year
It operates by using a digital open platform called FareShare FoodCloud that allows store staff and charities to liaise to distribute surplus food to those in most need of it.
It launches in 15 cities and regions this week, including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Portsmouth, and will cover all stores by the end of 2017.
Tesco and FareShare are appealing for 5,000 charities and community groups to join up and receive the food.
How the FairShare scheme works
Tesco is also calling on other retailers to adopt FareShare FoodCloud to create an industry-wide platform.
The initiative also includes the launch of a new "Perfectly Imperfect" range of so-called wonky vegetables that previously may have been thrown away and will be on sale at low prices, in line with several other grocers.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: "We believe no food that could be eaten should be wasted. That's why we have committed that no surplus food should go to waste from our stores.
"We know it's an issue our customers really care about, and wherever there's surplus food at Tesco stores, we're committed to donating it to local charities so we can help feed people in need.
"But we know the challenge is bigger than this and that's why we've made a farm to fork commitment to reduce food waste upstream with our suppliers and in our own operations and downstream in our customers' own homes."
FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: "We are delighted to be offering our store level solution in partnership with Tesco who are demonstrating real leadership in tackling food surplus.
"FareShare FoodCloud is a natural extension of our work together which has already provided nine million meals to help feed vulnerable people."
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