Best before end dates pic

The FWD is calling on the government to launch a campaign to help raise further awareness to the cause

Wholesalers are reporting short-dated stock is being more widely accepted by caterers, sparking hopes of reducing a £10m food waste bill.

Unitas MD Darren Goldney told The Grocer catering customers were being more receptive to short dates on ‘back-of-house ingredients’ where the consumer does not see the packaging.

“There has been reasonable acceptance of the Wrap and Defra’s BBE extension work,” he said, which has been reinforced by marketing materials produced by the buying group and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.

It comes after Wrap issued updated guidance in May which stated all food with a best-before date could be sold and consumed after that date, as long as it was still good quality. The FWD has urged suppliers to extend BBE dates in a bid to reduce an estimated £10m worth of food that was set to be wasted due to the hospitality shutdown.

Goldney highlighted consumer pushback was still prevalent on some front-of-house goods, such as sauce sachets, that carry individual dates and blamed a lack of public awareness on the merit of BBE date extensions.

British Frozen Food Federation issues new guidance on extending frozen food best before end dates

Bestway Wholesale’s MD Dawood Pervez reported similar trends within its hospitality and public sector catering contracts in particular.

Pervez said customers that initially wanted fresh or in-date stock have shifted to recognise the value in short-dated and extended shelf life goods.

“We are being asked to provide manufacturer letters confirming shelf life extensions and this fits with the campaign for short-dated/extended life stock to be common across the industry, and caterers (particularly public sector operators) are realising this,” he said.

Coca Cola and Unilever are two suppliers working collaboratively with Bestway on this issue. Pervez urged more to do the same.

Bidfood supply chain and technical services director Jim Gouldie revealed it had been working closely with suppliers in a bid to minimise what he called “significant levels” of stock at risk but: “so far wholesalers haven’t had a great deal of support on this issue from the government despite continued lobbying”.

FWD CEO James Bielby said the government needed to do more to inform caterers that stock close to or past BBE was fine to consume. “Wrap guidance is supported by Defra and the FSA but they are strangely reluctant to do more than just lend their logo,” he said. “A concerted government campaign on food waste would help drive caterer acceptance on BBE dates.”