East of England Co-op becomes first major retailer to sell food past ‘best before’ date in new waste cutting scheme
- Credit: Ashley Pickering/Anglia Picture
The East of England Co-op has become the nation’s first major food store to sell produce beyond its ‘best before’ date as part of a drive to drastically reduce food waste.
The retailer, which has 125 stores across the region, first started trialling the scheme, called The Co-op Guide to Dating over three months this year in 14 of its stores, where food past its best before date could be bought for a nominal 10p.
Bosses at the firm hope it will become a pioneering scheme in food retail and waste reduction.
“During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker,” said Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op who led the campaign.
“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.
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“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.”
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Between 30 and 50% of food produced globally for humans is wasted each year, according to the firm, with an estimated two metric tonnes per year set to be saved with the project.
Most food items beyond their best before will be able to be sold, but products with ‘use by’ dates will not be included as they should not be eaten after the dates indicated.
Food being sold past its best before date will not remain on sale any longer than one month, under Food Standard Agency guidelines.
The news is the latest in a string of green measures introduced by the Co-op, which also includes earlier discounts on food nearing its use by date, sourcing local produce to reduce carbon footprint, and recycling facilities to manage waste.
The 10p discounted food is not able to be donated to food banks, which do not accept food beyond its best before date.
Mr Grosvenor added: “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.”