International news: UK retailer sells products past ‘best before’ to reduce waste

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The East of England Co-op has become the first major retailer in the UK to start selling products beyond their ‘best before’ date with the aim of significantly reducing food waste in its 125 stores.

Products such as tinned goods, packets and dried food are safe to consume past their ‘best before’ date, but may not be at the optimal quality intended by the producer. They are also currently unable to be donated to charities such as food banks.

Following a successful three-month trial in 14 of its stores, The East of England Co-op now sells these products for a nominal 10p (18¢). The move was launched with a new campaign, ‘The Co-op Guide to Dating’ and shoppers will be told ‘Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner!’ and ‘It’s not nice to get dumped’ in an effort to encourage participation.

The East of England Co-op anticipates the initiative will save two metric tonnes from being wasted every year.

“This is not a money-making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain,” Joint CEO at the East of England Co-op Roger Grosvenor said.

“By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000 items every year, which would otherwise have gone to waste.”

During the trial, says Mr Grosvenor, 10p items were sold within hours of being reduced – sometimes quicker.

“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.”

Sales data is now more closely reviewed to monitor waste levels in each store, to enable the Co-op to remove or reduce product lines that generate excessive waste.

The East of England Co-op has also instigated a new ‘reduced to clear’ policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their ‘use by’ dates to help reduce waste further.