M&S removes best before dates from fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste


Best before dates will be removed from over 300 lines of fruit and vegetables across M&S stores, following a trial, in an attempt to reduce food waste.

The changes are designed to tackle food waste without compromising on quality or freshness, the supermarket chain says, which is 85% of M&S’ produce offerings and includes commonly wasted items apples, potatoes, and broccoli.

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

Removing dates on fresh fruit and veg can save the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets of food being binned in our homes.

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.

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.

Previously, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, had already removed best before dates on its own-brand fruit and vegetables back in 2018. In January, Morrisons stopped printing best before dates too and instead asked customers to use the “sniff test” to check items such as milk are still fresh.

Director of Food Technology at M&S, Andrew Clappen, 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.

“The other side of the challenge is making sure anything edible we don’t sell reaches those who need it most. 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.”

Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP, Catherine David, 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.”

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