Shop chain will sell products past 'best before' date for as little as 20p

reducing waste co-op basket

Co-op is aiming to cut waste - Credit: Southern Co-op

Products will be sold despite going beyond their 'best before' date in a number of North Somerset stores.

Southern Co-op has announced it will be selling selected goods that pass their recommended date.

The chain says the move is due to the 'best before' date relating to food quality, not food safety.

The move will come into effect at stores in Banwell, Bridgwater, Burnham on Sea, Cotford St Luke, Nailsea, Norton Fitzwarren and Taunton.

The firm has introduced the scheme as part of its Reducing Our Foodprint initiative, with products being reduced to just 20p.

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.

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.

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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.

Simon Eastwood, chief operating officer for retail at Southern Co-op, 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 and keep them in the food chain and improve sustainability."

The initial trial of the Reducing our Foodprint initiative took place at 13 stores run by the independent, regional co-operative and proved a success with the majority of products being sold within a day of being reduced.

Between April and September 2021, there were 16,862 items processed at the 20p price point across 11 of the 13 stores.

The stores in Somerset which are now included in the Reducing our Foodprint initiative are The Co-operative Food stores in Banwell's Knightcott Road; Bath's Widcombe Hill; Bridgwater's Stockmoor Drive; Burnham on Sea's Berrow Road; Cotford St Luke's Graham Way; Frome's Nunney Road; Nailsea's Hannah More Road; Norton Fitzwarren's Morse Road; Taunton's Wellington New Road; and Yeovil's Mudford Road.

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.