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Co-op the first British supermarket to sell expired food

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East of England Co-op become the first British supermarket to start selling food past its best before date in bid to cut waste

A High Street chain is to be the first to sell food past its ‘Best Before’ date in a bid to reduce waste.

Currently, the nation’s supermarkets clear these products from their shelves and they are dumped or burned.

Now the Co-op stores in its East of England division will sell these products in 125 outlets instead at a nominal mark down price of just 10p each.

The East of England Co-op anticipates the initiative has the potential to save at least two metric tonnes of food from being wasted every year just from its 125 stores.

Co-op stores in its East of England division will sell expired products in 125 outlets at a nominal mark down price of just 10p each

If other retailers follow suit, the measure could both massively reduce food waste and provide cheap food to struggling shoppers.

The move follows a successful three month trial in 14 of the Co-op’s stores and will be launched under a new campaign, ‘The Co-op Guide to Dating’.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that products past their ‘Best Before’ date are safe to eat but may not be at the optimum quality. The heavily reduced products will remain on sale for one month past their Best Before date.

Joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, Roger Grosvenor, said: ‘We are committed to reducing waste in our business.

f other retailers follow Co-op, the measure could both massively reduce food waste and provide cheap food to struggling shoppers

Co-op's 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, such as fresh meat and fish. These items should not be eaten after the ‘Use By’ date as they may pose a health risk

Co-op’s 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, such as fresh meat and fish. These items should not be eaten after the ‘Use By’ date as they may pose a health risk

‘During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker.

‘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 majority of products that use ‘Best Before’ dates will be included, such as tinned goods, packets and dried food.

The 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, such as fresh meat and fish. These items should not be eaten after the ‘Use By’ date as they may pose a health risk.

However, the East of England Co-op has also instigated a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering significant discounts early in the day on products nearing their ‘Use By’ date to ensure they are sold and eaten rather than thrown away.

The 125 stores in the group have also introduced customer recycling points and recycling facilities for stores to help manage packaging waste.

The 10p discounted food cannot be donated to charities such as food banks as they currently do not accept food after its ‘Best Before’ date.

Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores. Donations for more than 80,000 meals were collected last year and donated to 22 food banks across the East Anglia.

Last week, it emerged that supermarkets are being asked to add a blue fridge logo to packs to help prevent tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and chilled meals, worth £1billion, being binned each year.

The move is part of a simplification of labels amid concerns that fridges in two in three households are too warm.

The best way to store perishable foods is in the original pack in a fridge where the temperature is kept below 5°C.

Taking this simple step will add three days to the life of many foods, according to the official food waste advisors, WRAP.

It has issued new labelling guidance to supermarkets which recommends the ‘little blue fridge’ logo should be used on packs alongside the wording ‘Store in the fridge below 5°C’.

It believes this will serve as a constant reminder to families to make sure their fridges are kept cold enough.

WRAP said a ‘Use By’ date should only appear where safety is an issue with, for example, fresh meat, fish and poultry, fresh pasta, chilled ready meals, cooked sliced meats, pâtés, cut fruit, and sandwiches.

Otherwise, it said firms should only have a ‘Best Before’ date and leave it up to the consumer to decide whether a product is good to eat.

The organisation estimates that approximately 2 million tonnes of food, worth £5.6 billion, is wasted annually because it is not used in time.

It said: ‘We estimate that technical changes to packaging and labelling could help cut around 350,000 tonnes of household food waste a year by 2025, saving shoppers around £1 billion a year in wasted food.’  

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