East of England Co-op will sell goods beyond its “best before” dates for 10p in a plan to cut food waste.
The chain’s 125 stores in East Anglia will become the first major retailer to do so in a move that WRAP, the waste and recycling advisory board, has said complies with food safety standards.
The Co-op, which is independent of the Co-operative Group, will sell tinned goods and dried food such as pasta, crisps and rice for 10p. The items will remain on sale for one month past their Best Before date.
The offer will not apply to perishable foods, which carry a “use by” date indicating when a product is safe to eat.
According to the Food Standards Agency, the UK throws away 7.3 million tonnes of food every year. The agency says best before dates are about food quality, not safety.
The reduced price move forms part of The Co-op Guide to Dating, and runs with the slogan: “Don’t be a binner. Have it for dinner!”
The initiative has been welcomed online where shoppers called on other retailers to follow Co-Op’s lead.
Roger Grosvenor, East of England Co-op’s joint chief executive, said the 10p items were sold within hours of being reduced.
“The vast majority of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving on some of their favourite products,” he told the BBC.
Co-Op are yet to respond to a request for comment from HuffPost UK.
Grosvenor added to the broadcaster that the initiative was not about making money, “but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain”.
The retailer estimates the initiative will stop at least 50,000 items a year being thrown away.
The Co-op has also instigated a Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their Use By dates.
Aldi, meanwhile, has urged charities and other local organisations to get in touch because it wants to give away its leftover food - an estimated 20 to 30 crates - from each of its stores from 4pm on Christmas Eve.