Co-op to sell cut price food after ‘best before’ date

4 December 2017

Shoppers living in East Anglia can now buy dried foods and tinned products beyond their ‘best before’ date, for just 10p.

East of England Co-op – an independent co-op that’s separate to the Co-operative Group – is launching the scheme across its over 120 stores in Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk in a bid to reduce food waste.

It says it’s the first major retailer to start selling food beyond its ‘best before’ date, although there are some online retailers, such as Approved Food, which operate in this space already.

The launch follows a “successful” three-month trial in 14 stores.

East of England Co-op says it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of food produced globally is wasted each year. But it anticipates its initiative has the potential to save at least two metric tonnes from being wasted every year.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, comments: “During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker.

 “Most of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving on some of their favourite products.”

He adds: “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 difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates

According to the government’s Food Standards Authority, ‘best before’ dates signal the period when food can reasonably be expected to retain its optimal condition. After this date it will still be safe to consume items; they just might not be at their best.  

‘Use by’ dates meanwhile, are used to indicate the period within which you should consume products which could harm your health if you eat or drink them after that date.

New food logos guidance issued

Last week charity Wrap issued new guidance for food packaging.

It called for the snowflake logo to be reinstated where it might have been removed – this indicates that food is suitable for freezing.

It also introduced a new blue fridge icon for foods which should be kept chilled or benefit from being kept in the fridge at a temperature of below five degrees.

Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey, commented at the time: “We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary.

“This new guidance will make packaging much clearer for consumers, saving them money and reducing waste.

“I encourage all food businesses, large and small, to use this guidance to help them put the right date mark on food and help to guide people on the refrigeration and freezing of products which are crucial to reducing the amount of edible food thrown away.”

See our Shopping section for more news and tips on cutting household costs. 

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