The East of England Co-operative Group has announced it will become the first major retailer to start selling products beyond their best before date, in an effort to slash food waste in its stores.

The group will now sell products beyond their best before date in all of its 125 food stores for a nominal 10p. The move follows a successful three-month trial in 14 of its stores and will be promoted with a new campaign, ‘The Co-op Guide to Dating’.

The society anticipates that at least two tonnes of food waste will be saved by the initiative every year.

Joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor said: “We are committed to reducing waste in our business and The Co-op Guide to Dating is one of many initiatives we have instigated to make the East of England Co-op as efficient as possible, reducing our impact on the environment.”

“During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker. The vast majority of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving on some of their favourite products.

“This is not a money-making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain. By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000 plus items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that products which have passed their best before date are safe to consume but may not be at the optimum quality. Under the new initiative, The East of England Co-op will keep products on sale for one month past their best before date.

The 10p reduced products will not include ‘use by’ products and will mostly include canned, packed or dried foods. The East of England Co-op has also introduced a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts on products nearing their used by dates.

For more information, visit on the East of England Co-op’s official website.