Co-op Group axes best-before dates on fresh fruit and veg

‘We are committed to helping our customers cut food waste in the home and save money’

The Co-op Group is scrapping best-before dates on more than 150 lines of fresh fruit in a bid to cut food waste and help shoppers with their grocery budgets

The change, which comes in later this month, will affect all of the retailer’s fresh produce, with the exception of a small number of the more perishable products, or where it can be harder to use visual cues and judgment to assess the condition of a product.

Product life testing by Wrap – a climate action NGO which works around the world to improve the use of resources – shows that fruit and veg can be good to eat well beyond the best before date when stored in optimal conditions. For instance, broccoli can last 15 days past the best before date and the first sign of deterioration; potatoes can last 20 days and apples more than 70.

Wrap says households account for around 70% of UK food waste, and the removal of best-before dates can help tackle this problem – alongside on-pack guidance to highlight the optimum storage conditions, another measure being introduced by the Group.

Adele Balmforth, propositions director at the Group, 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 to 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’.”

An infographic from the Co-op Group

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap, said“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. We know from our research that removing the date labels on fruit and veg will help people throw less good food in the bin.

“And the on-pack information which Co-op will be introducing that outlines the best storage conditions to prolong product life will be an invaluable tool for people wanting to make the most of the food they buy. The average family spends £700 year on good food which ends up in the bin – moves like this from the Co-op help to change that.”

The move follows a small scale trial last year, when the Group introduced other anti-waste measures – a ‘freeze me’ message on its own brand milk products and the scrapping of use-by dates from all of its own-brand yoghurts, replacing them with best-before dates.