M&S removes best before dates in bid to tackle food waste

It confirmed that best before dates will be removed from the labelling of over 300 fruit and vegetable products

M&S has announced it will be removing best before dates from a range of fresh produce to help reduce in-store and household food waste.

It confirmed that best before dates will be removed from the labelling of over 300 fruit and vegetable products, or 85% of M&S’ produce offering, including commonly wasted items such as apples, potatoes and broccoli. 

Dates will instead be replaced with a new code which M&S store employees will use to ensure freshness and quality is maintained.

The change will be rolled out across all M&S UK stores from this week, and is designed to “encourage customers to throw away less edible food at home by using their judgement”.

As part of its Plan A sustainability roadmap, M&S has pledged to halve food waste by 2030, with 100% of edible surplus to be redistributed by 2025.

Andrew Clappen, director of Food Technology, 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.” 

He added: “The other side of the challenge is making sure anything edible we don’t sell reaches those who need it most. By partnering with Neighbourly since 2015 we’ve ensured over 44million meals are redistributed to local communities. Our promise as we aim for our target of halving food waste is to keep searching for solutions while we maintain the standards and value our customers expect.”

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. Removing dates on fresh fruit and veg can save the equivalent of 7 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. See Love Food Hate Waste for tips on how to reduce food waste, save money and fight climate change – did you know that storing most fruit and veg in the fridge, below 5oC, at home, can extend their life span by days, weeks and even months (in the case of apples and potatoes)?”

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