East of England Co-op has reportedly become the first major retailer to start selling dried foods and tinned products beyond their best before dates. The items will be sold for 10p in a bid to “significantly” reduce food waste.

The retailer will now sell products over their ‘Best Before’ date in its 125 food stores for a nominal 10p, following a successful three-month trial in 14 of its stores.

The move will be launched with a new campaign, The Co-op Guide to Dating, and the East of England Co-op anticipates the initiative will save two metric tonnes from being wasted every year.

Shoppers will be told ‘Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner!’ and ‘It’s not nice to get dumped’ in an effort to encourage participation, as it is estimated that every year between 30-50% of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted.

The majority of products that use ‘Best Before’ dates will be included, such as tinned goods, packets and dried food; the 10p reduced products will not include ‘Use By’ dated products, which should not be consumed after the ‘Use By’ date has passed.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, who heads up the company’s retail division and has spear-headed the initiative, commented: “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 […] By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000 items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that products past their ‘Best Before’ date are safe to consume but may not be at the optimum quality intended by the producer.

The heavily reduced products will remain on sale for one month past their ‘Best Before’ date, while the 10p discounted food is not able to be donated to charities such as food banks, as they currently do not accept food after its ‘Best Before’ date has passed.

Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores. Thanks to the generosity of customers, donations for more than 80,000 meals were collected last year and donated to 22 food banks across East Anglia.