Biggest Independent East Anglian Supermarket Sells ‘Out of Date’ Produce to Fight Food Wastage
With more than 10% of the world’s population living in food poverty, combatting food wastage is firmly at the top of the agenda for many companies around the globe. In an attempt to do their bit, East Anglia’s largest independent food retailers - the East of England Co-op - are selling food past its best before date at a hugely discounted rate.
The measure, which is to be rolled out across its 125 stores across the region, is expected to save around 2 metric tonnes of food wastage each year. Rather than dispose of the produce, it remains on sale for 1 month after its official best before date for just 10 pence.
The announcement comes after a successful 3 month trial conducted in 14 East of England Co-op outlets, with the initiative going under the name of “The Co-op Guide to Dating”. Despite sounding like a new, retail based matchmaking service, it’s actually a reference to avoiding food wastage, with one of its tag lines stating that “It’s not nice to get dumped”.
The retail chain’s dedication to reducing its impact on the environment is one of the key drivers for this push, something echoed by the person heading the move, Joint Chief Executive, Roger Grosvenor. The move is also backed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who deem selling food that’s beyond its best before date as being safe. However, what can’t be guaranteed is the absolute best quality of the food in question, although at a cost of just 10 pence, it’s something of a trade off.
The initiative has also been well received by East of England Co-op customers, with food reduced to 10p simply flying off the shelves. Grosvenor reports that customers are grateful of the opportunity to make a hefty saving on goods, especially as everything that’s on offer is perfectly edible.
However, what shouldn’t be confused are the terms ‘best before’ and ‘use by’, as they are completely different things and food with an expired use by date should not and will not be sold as part of this scheme.
It’s true to say that innovative initiatives like the one described above are something that if adopted on a country wide basis by all of the major supermarket chains, could make a significant difference and at the same time, provide massive savings for people whose grocery budgets are tight. It seems to be a win-win situation for both the retailer and the consumer, who are both making use of food that would otherwise be simply disposed of.
The East of England Co-op should be commended for this directive, as it provides a template for others to follow suit. In the words of Roger Grosvenor himself, “it is not about making money and all about reducing wastage” and that has to be a good thing.
Will we see wholescale adoption of this type of scheme across the country soon? Only time will tell, but if it is, there are will be no real losers and the two metric tonnes saved by the Co-op will seem like a drop in the ocean.