East of England Co-op to sell food past best before date in Guide to Dating waste push

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co-op guide to dating food waste campaign

The East of England Co-op is set to start selling products beyond their best-before date to reduce food waste.

From next week shoppers at the independent retailer’s 125 East Anglian stores will be able to buy food past its best-before date, which relates to quality rather than safety, for only 10p. The move follows a three-month trial in 14 of the Co-op’s stores and will be launched with new campaign The Co-op Guide to Dating.

Joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor, who has spearheaded the initiative, 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. 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.”

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The majority of products that currently use best-before dates will be included, say the retailer, such as tinned goods, packets and dried food, with it estimating the initiative will save two tonnes of food from being wasted from its stores every year. An in-store campaign will accompany the reductions and urge shoppers ‘Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner!’ and ‘It’s not nice to get dumped’.

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

The retailer has now also instigated a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their Use By dates to further help reduce waste, though no products will be sold beyond their Use By date, which relates to food safety.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Catherine Shuttleworth

    This news seems to have sparked a national debate about how we look after food and how long we can keep it!

    It's one of many initiatives that the food retailers are employing to drive down food waste in their stores and with customers. Despite all the hard work retailers are engaging with in this area we are still wasting a mind boggling amount of food in the UK each year and we can expect more initiatives from retailers to emerge.

    But what is also needed is greater education for the shopper about how to use food, store it and consume it. A quick straw poll of shoppers shows a mixed approach to managing food within best before dates and use by dates with younger shoppers being more resigned to chucking stuff out.

    It’s a very hot topic with shoppers as phone-ins attest to!

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