Co-op sells food past best-before date to curb waste

East of England Co-op will this week instigate a food waste clampdown with a scheme that allows shoppers to purchase food items past their best-before date.

East of England Co-op estimates the initiative will prevent at least 50,000 products a year being thrown away.

East of England Co-op estimates the initiative will prevent at least 50,000 products a year being thrown away.

Customers at the independent retailer’s 125 stores will be able to buy tinned goods and dried foods for as little as 10p. These items use best-before date labelling, which refers to quality rather than safety.

The new scheme follows a successful three-month trial in 14 Co-op stores which reportedly saw the 10p products fly off the shelves within hours.

East of England Co-op’s joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor told the Grocer that the campaign would help customers save money and reduce the retailer’s environmental impact.

“This is not a money-making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain,” Grosvenor said.

He added: “The vast majority of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving.”

'Don’t be a binner’

The retailer estimates the initiative will prevent at least 50,000 products a year being thrown away.

The price drops will be accompanied by an in-store campaign that urge customers 'don’t be a binner, have it for dinner'. East of England Co-op has also launched a new ‘reduced to clear’ policy which will increase the amount of discounts for products nearing their use-by dates.

The announcement comes less than a week after waste agency Wrap established a new date label guidance for food manufacturers and retailers to help tackle the amount of edible food discarded in UK homes.

Wrap welcomed the Co-op’s move and said it met the latest guidelines, as long as discounted items were not damaged.

Meanwhile, fellow retailer Aldi has confirmed it will give away surplus food to local charities and food banks on Christmas Eve. A statement circulating on social media says that an estimated 20 to 30 crates of leftover food from each of Aldi’s stores will be free from 4pm on December 24.

George Ogleby


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Food waste

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Waste & resource management
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