East of England Co-op becomes first major retailer to sell products past ‘Best Before’ to reduce food waste

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op. Picture: Anglia Picture Agency.
Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op. Picture: Anglia Picture Agency.

The East of England Co-Op is encouraging customers to ignore best before dates in a bid to tackle food waste.

The independent East Anglia retailer will now sell products over their Best Before date in its 125 food stores for a nominal 10p.

Harleston East of England Co-op

PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Harleston East of England Co-op PICTURE: Mecha Morton

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’.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “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.”

It is estimated every year between 30 – 50 per cent of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted.

The East of England Co-op believes the initiative has the potential to save at least two metric tonnes from being wasted every year.

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

Richard Grosvenor

Shoppers will be told ‘Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner’ and ‘It’s not nice to get dumped’ to encourage participation.

Mr Grosvenor added: “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 more than 50,000 items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste.”

The majority of products using Best Before dates will be included. The 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, which should not be consumed after the Use By date has passed.

The heavily reduced products will remain on sale for one month past their Best Before date.

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.