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Sainsbury's To Drop The Best Before Dates on 273 Additional Products

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More Best Before Dates To Disappear From Sainsbury's Own Products

Sainsbury’s has announced significant changes to its date label on packaging for its own brand products, which could save up to 17million food products going to waste a year.

From the end of August, the retailer will begin the removal of ‘best before’ dates from a raft of fresh produce, including pears, onions, tomatoes, and citrus fruits from over 100 product lines, and a further 130 products, including potatoes, will follow. The move builds on the work Sainsbury’s has done recently to remove dates from over 1,500 lines, including pineapples, pumpkins, apples and indoor plants. These upcoming changes could help UK households to save 11,000 tonnes of food each year, the equivalent of 17 million products.* An on-pack message ‘no date helps reduce waste’ will be present across the fresh produce where the label changes come into play.

A recent report from WRAP, an organisation dedicated to cutting food waste, reveals that removing date labels from the most wasted fresh produce items such as broccoli, apples, potatoes, and cucumber could cut annual household food waste by 50,000 tonnes.

Additionally, Sainsbury’s will switch all ‘use by’ dates on own-brand yoghurts to ‘best before’ dates by the end of this year, affecting 46 product lines. Research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) revealed that 54,000 tonnes of yoghurt are wasted a year. For 70 per cent of this waste, the date label was cited as the reason for throwing it away. Related to this, around half of all yoghurt thrown away in homes is in unopened packs.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), ‘use by’ dates are linked to food safety, whereas ‘best before’ dates relate to food quality. Food with a ‘use by’ date applied should never be used past this date (unless frozen on or before that date), whereas foods with a ‘best before’ date can be eaten beyond that date. Following stringent testing, Sainsbury’s has found that its yoghurt is safe to consume past its expiration date and instead is giving customers more autonomy to make their own decisions on whether their food is good to eat after the ‘best before’ date.

These changes come as part of the retailer’s commitment to halve its food waste by 2030 and support its ongoing work with farmers and growers to reduce food waste in its supply chain, sending surplus food from stores to charity food donation partners and recovering energy from waste.

In the last year, Sainsbury’s has donated over 5 million meals to those in need through its partner, Neighbourly. Now, the retailer is expanding the service to its convenience stores, meaning even more meals will be provided. In 2021, Sainsbury’s increased its food distribution to people by 119% year on year, a key driver of which was its partnership with Neighbourly.

Sainsbury’s continues collaborating with the industry on reducing food waste and has been a member of the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap since 2018. The retailer works closely with WRAP to implement its guidance on upstream and downstream food waste, including increasing behavioural tips on product labelling. This year Sainsbury’s engaged suppliers in aligning with WRAP’s best practice on redistributing own-label products within the supply chain, evolving its guidelines so that suppliers can redistribute any Sainsbury’s own-label products to its chosen food donation partners.

Kate Stein, Director of Technical at Sainsbury’s, said, “We know that around a third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted, and food waste is one of the leading contributors of carbon emissions, accounting for a staggering 8-10% of GHG emissions globally, which is why we’re committed to helping customers reduce waste at home. We also know that avoiding unnecessary waste can help our customers save money by making their food shop last longer. The changes we’re announcing today will do just that, giving customers more autonomy to decide whether their food is good to eat and preventing them from disposing of food too early.

With these changes, we can all play our part in tackling the climate crisis and protecting the planet for generations to come.”

Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP, said: “WRAP is thrilled to see these changes on fruit, veg and yoghurts to help tackle food waste in our homes. Wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money. The right date label, or no date label, greatly influences what we use and what we throw away. For fruit and veg, date labels are unnecessary, and our research has shown that removing them can save the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets’ worth from our household bins a year. With yoghurts, applying a ‘Best Before’ date rather than a ‘Use By’ date means that people can use their judgement to eat beyond that date. Storing most fruit and veg and all yoghurt products in the fridge below 5 degrees will keep them fresher longer.

“We call on more retailers to make these changes. The average family in the UK throws away £700 worth of food a year – check out Love Food Hate Waste for tips on reducing food waste, saving money and fighting climate change.”

In 2021 Sainsbury’s announced that it had brought its Net Zero target forward by five years, from 2040 to 2035. The retailer has pledged to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 in its own operations and has sent zero waste to landfill since 2013.

*Figures calculated by WRAP and based on the impact removal of best before dates has on household waste. Sales volumes for products supplied by Sainsbury's. Based on removal of ‘best before’ dates on over 100 product lines of fresh produce. Excludes potatoes, yoghurts and changes recently made.


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