UK – British multinational retailer, Marks and Spencer Group (M&S) is removing best before dates from a range of fresh produce to help reduce in-store and household food waste.

Best before dates will be removed from the labelling of over 300 fruit and vegetable products (85% of M&S’ produce offering) including commonly wasted items apples, potatoes and broccoli.

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

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

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.”

Research from WRAP shows that an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food are thrown away by UK households a year.

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

As well as reducing the number of best before dates, the retailer is taking several steps to reduce food waste and helping its 30 million customers and 70,000 colleagues to do the same.

To achieve its goal, the retailer has been donating over 44million meals to charities by partnering with Neighbourly since 2015, where store teams work closely with their local communities to ensure edible food surplus is redistributed.

M&S also launched a 25p Banana bag scheme last year, which allows customers to buy a minimum of three ready-to-eat bananas along with two delicious recipes.

In addition,  over 200 M&S stores use unsold baguettes and boules – which are baked fresh daily – to create frozen garlic bread, preparing them and adding garlic butter at the end of each day.

M&S’ latest Family Matters Index revealed that 72% of UK families are taking steps to reduce household waste, with those in Northern Ireland the most determined (77%).

Over half (55%) of families say it’s important that the shops they buy from make it easier for them to make more sustainable choices.

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