Tesco waste initiative sets benchmark

By James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Tesco's decision to remove best before dates has been heavily praised
Tesco's decision to remove best before dates has been heavily praised
Tesco’s decision to remove best-before dates from select fruit and vegetable lines will be a benchmark that all other supermarkets will follow, according to an industry expert.

David Young, a partner at business analyst Eversheds Sutherland, said the change in date labelling should play into educating consumers on how to preserve the quality of non-perishable foods.

“Fruit and vegetables discarded to landfill have greater pollution potential through methane production than many will recognise,” he said. “Expect other retailers to follow suit.”

Tesco said up to 70 lines would have the date label removed from them, including apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and onions.

Head of food waste Mark Little said the change to fruit and vegetable packaging was made due to wastage concerns.

“We know some customers may be confused by the difference between best-before and use-by dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded,”​ said Little.

“Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the best-before date code on the packaging.”

Food waste charity the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said the change by Tesco would provide a good opportunity to learn about the customer response to the removal of best-before labels and hoped the supermarket would share its findings.

The move followed a recent campaign by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes into the causes of food waste, which found that less than half of people asked understood the meaning of best-before dates.

Related topics: Food Safety, Packaging, Fresh produce

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