Co-op scraps expiry dates from its fresh produce packaging to cut food waste

UK – British consumer co-operative group Co-op has revealed plans to remove ‘best before’ dates from its fresh produce lines in a bid to cut food waste and save money.

The changes will be implemented later this month, with best before dates removed from almost all of Co-op’s fresh produce, including apples, oranges, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onions and broccoli.

Some more perishable produce lines, or those where it can be harder to judge whether they can be eaten, will continue to have best before dates, the supermarket said.

The changes aim to help customers reduce food waste at home and save money

In a press release, Adele Balmforth, Co-op propositions director, said: “As we face into a climate, environmental and cost of living crisis, we are committed to helping our customers cut food waste in the home and save money.

“Date codes can drive decisions in the home and result in good food being thrown away, which has a cost to both people and our planet.

“In addition to axing best before dates on fresh fruit and vegetables, our inclusion of storage instructions can also help products last longer and, sits alongside our simple on-pack message for shoppers – ‘If it still looks good enough to eat, it is!”

The move follows a report by WRAP that found around 50,000 tonnes of household waste could be prevented each year by removing ‘best before’ date labels for potatoes, apples, cucumbers and broccoli.

WRAP also suggests printing storage advice on the packaging that does not have a ‘best before’ label. Therefore, Co-op is introducing on-pack guidance to highlight the best storage conditions to prolong product life.

“We’re delighted to see the Co-op continue to take action to reduce household food waste, saving customers money and conserving the planet’s precious resources,” said Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP.

“We know from our research that removing the date labels on fruit and veg will help people throw less good food in the bin.

“The average family spends £700 (US$848) a year on good food which ends up in the bin. Moves like this from Co-op help to change that.”

Last year, Co-op introduced a “freeze me” message to its own-brand milk products to cut down on milk being wasted and replaced use-by dates with best before dates on own-brand yogurts.

Furthermore, in 2022 Co-op announced a move to scrap ‘use-by’ dates from all of its own-brand yoghurts, replacing them with best-before dates.

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