Asda removes best before dates on fruit and veg packaging to cut UK food waste
01 Sep 2022 --- UK supermarket Asda is removing the “best before” dates on almost 250 of its packaged fresh fruit and vegetable products across stores from today, helping customers reduce food waste and save money.
The change follows recent research conducted and published by the climate action group WRAP, which revealed that the average family throws away £60 (US$69) worth of food and drink each month.
“Our research has shown that date labels on fruit and vegetables are unnecessary – getting rid of them can prevent the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets’ worth from our household bins,” asserts Catherine David, director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP.
The supermarket says the dates will be replaced by a new code, which will be used by store colleagues to ensure the highest quality and freshness is maintained.
The codes are supported by specialist greengrocers in over 250 stores who have received training in all aspects of Asda’s fresh produce operation, including where products should be stored to maintain freshness and quality.
“Reducing food waste in our business and in customers’ homes is a priority, and we are always looking at different ways to achieve this. We know for customers this has become more important than ever in the current climate as many families are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and are looking to make savings wherever they can,” says Andy Cockshaw, head of technical at Asda IP.
A consumer responsibility?
Asda says it wants to encourage customers to decide for themselves if the fruit and vegetables are still edible in a bid to decrease food waste.
The supermarket says it is also providing additional guidance online and on packaging to help customers understand how to best store and prepare fresh food and tips on how to reduce food waste.
Among the products for which “best before” labels will be removed are citrus fruits, potatoes, cauliflowers and carrots.
Marks & Spencer has also recently removed “best before” dates from over 300 fruit and vegetable products, representing 85% of the UK retailer’s produce offering.
Meanwhile, a study by the Agri-food Analytics Lab of Dalhousie University, Canada, revealed that the majority of Canadians oppose eliminating “best before” dates on food products to reduce food waste because of food safety contradictions in Canada.
Major pollution cause
Globally, food waste is a significant contributor to climate change, accounting for 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). In the UK alone, food waste is responsible for an estimated 36 million metric tons of GHG emissions every year, according to WRAP.
“We know that wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money. The influence of no date label or the right date label on what we use and what we throw away is huge,” says David.
Meanwhile, despite the continued concern over plastic’s ecological impact, the material plays a vital role in extending food shelf life and preventing rising GHG emissions.
PackagingInsights recently spoke with experts from Sealpac and Graphic Packaging International about food waste as a major climate change issue.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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