Co-op to sell food after ‘best before’ date to beat waste

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The East of England Co-op plans to sell food for just 10p once it has passed its ‘best before’ date
The East of England Co-op plans to sell food for just 10p once it has passed its ‘best before’ date

Related tags: The co-operative group, Food, Somerfield

The East of England Co-op has pledged to become the first big retailer to sell food after its ‘best before’ date, in a bid to crack down on food waste.

The East Anglian retailer will sell ambient food products beyond their ‘best Before’ date in its 125 food stores for the nominal price of 10p.

The move followed a three-month trial in 14 of the Co-op’s stores and will be launched with a new campaign, ‘The Co-op Guide to Dating’. Products included tinned foods, pasta, crisps and rice.

East of England Co-op joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor said: “We are committed to reducing waste in our business and The Co-op Guide to Dating is one of many initiatives we have instigated to make the East of England Co-op as efficient as possible, reducing our impact on the environment.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that products past their ‘best before’ date are safe to consume but may not be at the optimum quality intended by the producer.

Heavily-discounted products

The retailer planned to retain heavily-discounted products on sale for one month past their ‘best before’ date.

The East of England Co-op, which is independent of the Co-operative Group, expected the initiative to save at least 2t of food from being wasted every year.

Shoppers will be urged: ‘Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner!’ and ‘It’s not nice to get dumped’ in a bid to encourage support for the plan. 

“During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker,”​ said Grosvenor.

‘10p items went within hours of being reduced’

 “The vast majority of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving on some of their favourite products.

“This is not a money making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain. By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000 plus items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste.”

The initiative was welcomed by the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP).

“While ‘use by’ date labels indicate when a product is safe to eat, ‘best before’ date labels only refer to when food is at its best,”​ a WRAP spokesman told BBC News. “As such, it is perfectly safe to sell food at or after its ‘best before’ date.”

WRAP estimates that the nation bins £13bn worth of edible food every year.

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