February 21, 2023

U.K. co-op to remove best before dates on most fresh produce

U.K. consumer cooperative Co-op is removing best before dates of more than 150 lines of fresh produce in an effort to cut food waste and save money.

Shoppers will see changes in store 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.

U.K. consumer cooperative Co-op is removing best before dates of more than 150 lines of fresh produce in an effort to cut food waste and save money. Photo: File

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.

“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,” Adele Balmforth, Co-op propositions director, said in a news release. “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.”

Product testing by nongovernmental nonprofit WRAP showed fruit and vegetables can be good to eat well beyond best before dates when stored in optimal conditions — up to 70 days longer in the case of apples.

“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, said.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 supermarket has also added storage instructions to packs to help products last longer, Balmforth said.

The move follows a small-scale trial last year.

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

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





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