Supermarket move

M&S to drop ‘best before’ labels in waste plan

M&S best before food label 2
Best before labels will be dropped on many food and veg items

Marks & Spencer is dropping best-before dates from a range of food products to cut the amount of household waste.

More than 300 products will instead be monitored by a code to ensure quality and freshness while fresh produce is on the shelf.

Consumers have long complained that best-before labels are mistaken for ‘use-by’ labels and contribute to millions of pounds worth of edible food being thrown out. A report in 2017 recommended the removal of ‘best-before’ labels for most products.

The new M&S initiative will be rolled out across all of its UK stores this week.

Andrew Clappen, director of food technology at Marks & Spencer, said: ‘We’re determined to tackle food waste.”

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP said: “We’re thrilled to see this move from M&S, which will reduce food waste and help tackle the climate crisis. 

Daily Business launched a campaign in 2015 to cut the amount of edible food dumped by supermarkets each year.

At the time the Waste and Resources Action Programme, a not-for-profit organisation looking at UK resource efficiency, said seven million tonnes of food waste – more than 50% of which could have been eaten – was being thrown away.

Our campaign launch in 2015

Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco, admitted in 2013 that of two-thirds of bagged salads were never consumed.

Since then supermarkets and launched a number of initiatives and last year Britain’s biggest grocers, restaurants and food manufacturers said they will cut food waste by 30% to meet a target set by the United Nations. According to a Wrap progress report, UK food waste fell 7% between 2015 and 2018.

In September last year Morrisons announced that its six supermarkets in Edinburgh would become “zero waste” stores in a pilot scheme which aims to recycle all packaging and unsold food by 2025.

Legal & General Investment Management was early adopter of food waste as a key factor in environmental, social and governance practices.

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