Selling expired best-before products – media response

5 December 2017

New Zealand supermarkets are legally allowed to sell products after their “best before” dates if that’s what they want to do, says FGC.

Fairfax Media asked FGC if it would support a move by New Zealand supermarkets to sell food beyond its “best before” date, following UK supermarket chain East of England Co-op becoming the first major retailer there to do so. The BBC reported that the chain's 125 stores will sell dried foods and tinned products for 10p in a bid to cut food waste. The offer will not apply to perishable foods, which carry a "use by" date indicating when a product is safe to eat.

Katherine Rich responded:

It’s a decision for retailers. Many already have relationships with food rescue services which deal with good food that needs to be distributed and eaten quickly. 

It’s legal in NZ to sell a product with an expired best-before date, as long as the product is up to scratch, and if supermarkets selling it means less food is wasted, then that’s a good thing. But the products should be very clearly marked as being past their best-before date so consumers know exactly what they’re buying.

Offering foods past its best-before date is the easy part, but getting consumers to accept it could be a hurdle. Some shoppers won’t mind, while others won’t like it. Some extra consumer education would be needed. 

Food manufacturers try and minimise food waste in each part of the supply chain from paddock to supermarket trolley.

Read the BBC report on the move by East of England Co-op here