‘Foodprint’ initiative trial expanded to more co-operatives

Eleven co-operative stores in Berkshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire have been selected to take part in a trial selling selected products past their ‘best before’ date.

The new waste reduction initiative ‘Reducing our Foodprint’ launched yesterday at selected Southern Co-op stores and focuses on the ‘best before’ date as it relates to quality, not the safety of the product.

It also builds on improvements already made by the independent, regional co-operative to reduce the amount of products which are unsold because they have gone past their ‘use by’ date.

With 100% of store waste already diverted from landfill, food which goes unsold is currently broken down to produce biogas and bio-fertiliser through anaerobic digestion.

Gemma Lacey, Director of Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-op, said: “People are more aware than ever of the impact of unnecessary food waste. We want to go one step further and prove that a large number of products are still tasty and good enough to eat past their ‘best before’ date.

“We hope this will also raise awareness that there are products in the back of people’s cupboards which don’t need to be thrown away. According to national figures, UK households waste five million tonnes of edible food every year and together we can do more to keep edible food in the food chain.”

An initial trial of the ‘Reducing our Foodprint’ took place at two Hampshire stores and proved a success with the majority of products being sold within a day of being reduced.

This extended trial will initially run for 12 weeks at The Co-operative Food stores in Bath’s Widcombe Hill, Blandford’s Salisbury Road, Bradford On Avon’s Winsley Road, Frome’s Nunney Road, Lambourn’s High Street, Mere’s The Square, Old Sarum’s Crosier Close, Shaftesbury’s Beaufoy Close, Shrewton’s High Street, Sturminster’s Station Road, and Yeovil’s Mudford Road.

Products will be available for just 20p with fresh products being sold up to two days after their ‘best before’ date and ambient products being sold up to seven days after their ‘best before’ date.

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.

Gemma Lacey added: “We have some ambitious climate action targets over the next decade as we aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our direct operations by 50% by 2030, compared to 2019.

“This will build on the initial work we did to reduce our emissions by 27% in 2018 compared with 2012. We hope more businesses will join us and together we can start to make an impact on climate change.”

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.

To find out more about Southern Co-op’s environmental targets, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/about-us/#tab-id-5.

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