UK retailer Marks & Spencer is removing 'best before' dates from a range of fruit and vegetables to encourage customers to reduce food waste.
The retailer has pledged to halve food waste by 2030 and redistribute 100% of edible surplus by 2025, as part of its Plan A sustainability roadmap.
The company will remove 'best before' dates from the labelling of over 300 fruit and vegetable SKUs, which comprise 85% of its fresh-produce offering.
This will include commonly-wasted items such as apples, potatoes and broccoli, the retailer noted.
UK households throw away approximately 6.6 million million tonnes of food a year, research from climate action NGO Wrap has unveiled.
Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap, commented, "Removing dates on fresh fruit and vegetables can save the equivalent of seven million shopping baskets of food being binned in our homes. We urge more supermarkets to get ahead on food waste by axing date labels from fresh produce, allowing people to use their own judgement."
'Best Before' Dates
Marks & Spencer has commenced the roll out of packaging without 'best before' dates across all UK stores this week.
A new code will replace best before dates to help the retailer ensure the freshness and quality of products.
Andrew Clappen, director of food technology at Marks & Spencer, said, "We’re determined to tackle food waste – our teams and suppliers work hard to deliver fresh, delicious, responsibly sourced produce at great value and we need to do all we can to make sure none of it gets thrown away.
"To do that, we need to be innovative and ambitious - removing best before dates where safe to do so, trialling new ways to sell our products and galvanising our customers to get creative with leftovers and embrace change."
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Marks & Spencer’ most recent Family Matters Index showed that 72% of UK families are taking steps to reduce household waste, with respondents in Northern Ireland the most determined (77%).
The retailer is also implementing other measures to reduce food waste, including a partnership with Neighbourly to redistribute surplus edible food.
Since 2015, the retailer has donated over 44 million meals to charities through this partnership.
Other initiatives include a 25p banana bags scheme, making frozen garlic bread from unsold baguettes and boules, and offering recipes with the 'love your leftovers' campaign.