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The Co-op Guide to Dating

Products past ‘Best Before’ date sold for 10p at East of England Co-op
The Co-op Guide to Dating

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

The biggest independent retailer in East Anglia will now sell products over their ‘Best Before’ date in its 125 food stores for a nominal 10p. The move follows a successful three-month trial in 14 of the Co-op’s stores and will be launched with new campaign, ‘The Co-op Guide to Dating’.

An estimated 30-50% of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted annually. The East of England Co-op anticipates the initiative will save two metric tonnes from being wasted every year.

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.

‘A sensible move’

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that products past their ‘Best Before’ date are safe to consume, but may not be at the optimum quality intended by the producer. The heavily reduced products will remain on sale for one month past their Best Before date.

‘During our trial we found our 10p items went 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.

‘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.’

Joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op

The Co-op’s scheme will include the majority of products that use ‘Best Before’ dates, such as tinned goods, packets and dried food. The 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, which should not be consumed after the Use By date has passed.

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 which generate excessive waste.

Waste-cutting policies

The East of England Co-op has now also instigated a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their ‘Use By’ dates to further help reduce waste.

These changes are the latest in a string of environmental initiatives implemented by the East of England Co-op. Customer recycling points and recycling facilities for stores help manage packaging waste, and partnerships between local suppliers in the East of England Co-op’s award-winning Sourced Locally range helps local produce travel even shorter distances, reducing the Co-op’s carbon footprint.

The 10p discounted food can’t be donated to charities such as food banks, as they don’t currently accept food after its ‘Best Before’ date has passed. Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores.

Thanks to the generosity of Co-op customers, donations for more than 80,000 meals were collected last year and donated to 22 food banks across the East Anglia.

Click here to find out which supermarkets, food and drink and packaging trade associations lobbied the government to oppose proposals designed to boost recycling.

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