Britain's Co-operative Group has announced plans to scrap 'use by' dates from all own-brand yoghurt SKUs to prevent food waste.
The retailer plans to replace ‘use by’ dates on packs with ‘best before’ dates, which it says will help shoppers to prevent unnecessary food waste at home.
Co-op added that it will commence the rollout of best before dates from May and will have the full range amended by October 2022.
'Use By' Dates
‘Use by’ dates in yoghurts are linked to food safety and guide shoppers to not consume past the specified date, whereas ‘best before’ refers to the quality and often allows for the food to be eaten after that date.
Tests have revealed that the product is safe to consume past its listed expiration date and that the main change is quality.
Co-op’s new guidance aims to encourage shoppers to check the quality of the product and use visual cues to determine whether it is suitable to consume.
Nick Cornwell, head of food technical at Co-op, said, “Yoghurt can be safe to eat if stored unopened in a fridge after the date mark shown, so we have made the move to best before dates to help reduce food waste.
“The acidity of yoghurt acts as a natural defence and we’d encourage shoppers to use their judgement on the quality of their yoghurt if it is past the best before date.”
Yoghurt worth around £100 million is thrown away by UK households each year due to guidance printed on the pack, the retailer noted.
Around six million people in the UK consume yoghurt each day, according to data from Statista.
Research from WRAP has unveiled that 50% of yoghurts are thrown away in unopened packs and 70% of the all yoghurt discarded by households was due to yoghurts ‘not being used in time’, with the date label cited as the reason.
Cornwell added, “Data from WRAP has suggested that 70% of food waste happens within the home setting. It’s our ambition to help our members and customers to make small changes that will collectively make a big impact and combat unnecessary food waste.
“Controlling food waste is not only beneficial for managing household budgets, it also has an environmental benefit and will ultimately help reduce carbon emissions. We encourage more retailers and brands to review their on-pack guidance and make the switch to best before dates for yoghurts.”
Measures For Prevention
Last year, Co-op removed date labels on several fresh produce lines as part of an ongoing trial. It also offers storage advice on the packaging for several of its product ranges to help reduce waste.
Co-op donates and redistributes surplus food through its Food Share programme to combat food waste in its stores and support thousands of local community groups.
Since 2015, the convenience retailer has also diverted more than five million meals worth of food through its partnership with FareShare to those that need it most.
Read More: Morrisons To Remove ‘Use-By’ Date On Milk
Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change WRAP, commented, “We’re delighted to see Co-op making this change to its entire yoghurt range, as we know that the date label on yoghurt is a fundamental reason that it is wasted at home.
“Wasting food feeds climate change and costs money. Applying a best-before date helps give people the confidence to use their judgement to eat beyond a best before date and use more of the yoghurt they buy – protecting the planet and their pockets.”