Ocado has launched a groundbreaking new initiative it claims will help consumers dramatically reduce their food waste.

From September, the online retailer will display product use-by dates online and on receipts. "It means the food we sell will be fresher on average than any supermarket," said CFO Jason Gissing, unveiling the initiative the same week PM Gordon Brown called on consumers to make reducing f0od waste as important as saving energy.

"It will make a huge difference to the business because we won't be wrongly accused of sending out products close to the end of their shelf life."

It would also help families to plan meals, he said. "When you're shopping on the site you will always be able to see the life of the product, and when you go through the checkout it will show the life of all the products," he said.

The new receipts will also list the food under days of the week to show when shelf life ends. "We think people will stick the receipt up on the fridge," said Gissing. "I know this from my own family. If you have children, if you are able to stick it up on the fridge, customers and their families can plan their consumption and minimise food waste.

"Customers will trust us and buy more from us, because there is no more guesswork: 'Will that steak be okay at the weekend? Not sure so better not buy it.'"

The new feature had been under development for six months, he said. "This is a huge project and we are running trials at the moment. It impacts every part of our business from suppliers to warehouse processes to the website design, to the amount of stock we hold as a business, to the receipts and customer proposition.

"No-one has ever done this before in food retail around the world and the reason for that is complexity. We have had to change and upgrade every process over six months.

"We have got about 14,000 different types of product, so we have to be meticulous about the dates and watertight on processes."