UK grocer sells food past 'best before' date

grocery shopping
Public Domain MaxPixel

Customers are happy to buy expired food if it costs next to nothing.

A British grocery store chain has become the first major retailer to sell food past its 'best before' date. In an effort to reduce food waste, the East of England Co-op, a grocer with 125 locations throughout East Anglia, has begun marking down certain foods to a mere 10 pence in order to encourage customers to buy them.

The reduced price applies only to non-perishable foods, such as pasta, chips, grains, dried foods, canned goods, and rice. The mark-down will last for one month, although a spokesperson for the Co-op has said the foods fly off the shelves within hours, sometimes more quickly.

The 10p reduction is part of the retailer's broader anti-food waste campaign, cleverly titled, "The Co-op Guide to Dating," with catchy lessons like, "Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner!" and "It's not nice to get dumped." The website puts the importance of this campaign into perspective:

"Thirty to 50 percent of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted every year. That’s 7.3 million tonnes per year in the UK, or 20,000 tonnes every day. The average UK family wastes almost £60 per month on uneaten food. For the average UK family with children that’s almost £720 per year spent on uneaten food."

anti-dumping campaign© East of England Co-op

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive for the Co-op, said in a press release:

"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. 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 items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste."

The Co-op estimates its efforts will divert two metric tonnes of food waste from landfill annually.

Foods with a 'use by' date cannot be reduced, since this label suggests that food is no longer safe to consume after a particular date. The Co-op has launched a 'Reduced to Clear' policy for these foods, in hopes of moving them faster as they approach their expiry date.

Learn more about food labels and what they all mean.

Tags: Food Safety | Food Security | United Kingdom | Waste

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