Co-op to sell more food after ‘best before’ date to cut waste

Posted On 14 Jan 2022 at 1:31 pm

Five Co-op branches in Brighton and Hove are to sell some food past its “best before” date as part of a plan to cut waste.

The Southern Co-op, which runs the five stores, said that “best before” dates relate to the quality of the food, not whether it’s still safe to eat.

The business said: “With the aim of keeping more food in the human food chain, Southern Co-op has expanded its ‘Reducing Our Foodprint’ initiative, with products being reduced to just 20p.

“Now available in more than 100 Co-operative food stores across the south of England, the waste reduction scheme aims to keep as much produce as possible in the food chain and reduce the amount sent off for anaerobic digestion.

“All store waste is currently diverted from landfill, with food broken down to produce biogas and bio-fertiliser.”

Southern Co-op’s chief operating officer for retail, Simon Eastwood, said: “Customer feedback from the trials of this scheme has been largely positive, with many of the products being snapped up as soon as they get reduced.

“There are a large number of products that are still good enough to eat past their ‘best before’ date.

“Many of us are already familiar with this in our home environment so this just takes it one step further.

“The first stage in the fight against food waste is to make sure there aren’t products reaching their ‘best before’ date.

“But if they do, we will now be reducing them to 20p to try to keep them in the food chain and improve sustainability.”

The Southern Co-op branches taking part in the scheme have green shop fascias and signage while the national Co-op Group stores have been rebranding with grey fascias.

The participating stores in Brighton and Hove are

  • Bramber House on the Sussex University campus at Falmer
  • Old Shoreham Road in Hove
  • Portland Road in Hove
  • Western Road in Hove
  • Abinger Road in Portslade

The scheme was initially tested last year in 13 stores run by the independent regional co-operative and proved popular. It is now available in more than 100 branches across the south of England.

The Southern Co-op branch in Abinger Road in Portslade

The Southern Co-op said: “Fresh products will be sold up to two days after their ‘best before’ date and ambient products will be sold up to seven days after their ‘best before’ date.

“Examples of products included in the reduction initiative include tinned fruit and veg, dried pasta and rice, confectionery, selected condiments, sugar and sweeteners, coffee, tea and jams as well as chilled products such as soft fruit and fruit juices.

“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.

“Southern Co-op is currently working towards ambitious science-based targets to cut direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the business by 2030, supported by a climate action pathway of planned activity and an initial investment of £5.8 million.”

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