Consumers are largely uneducated on the meaning of 'best before' dates as they relate to fruits and veggies.  This confusion is cited as a major cause of a global 680 billion dollar problem, and has prompted the UK's largest grocery chain to make a change.

UK-based grocery chain Tesco has announced plans to remove 'best before' dates from more than 100 lines of fruit and vegetable lines in order to cut down on food waste both at the retail and consumer level.  The retailer removed guidance dates from about 70 lines of fruits and vegetables earlier this year, after research found that they compelled consumers to throw away food far before it was necessary.

While 'best before' dates are mandatory for foods like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products; guidance dates on fruits and vegetables are usually a quality indication to show that while they are still safe to eat, they may not be at their best flavour and texture.

Further research found that 69% of shoppers believed scrapping 'best before' dates was a good idea. 53% of shoppers in the same survey said they thought removing 'best before' dates made a difference, helping them keep safe, perfectly-edible food for longer.

Food waste statistics are alarming in the UK (as they are in most of the world), with 71% of the waste occuring at the household level.  An estimated £13bn of edible food being thrown away from homes every year.

“Removing best before dates is our way of making it easier for customers to reduce food waste at home and save money in the process” said Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste reduction. “It’s simply not right that food goes to waste and we’re going to do everything we can to help."

The findings of Tesco's research has been echoed around the world.  A recent study by Humboldt University in Berlin suggested that 43% of food waste in Germany occurs due to the expiry of 'best before' dates.  A University of Quebec study found that Canadian shoppers often reach to the back of a shelf to find an item with the latest best before date, and will even throw away items whose 'best before' dates are approaching.

Researchers encourage retailers, food brands, and grower groups to prioritize consumer education and attempt to dispel misconceptions in shopper's minds about 'best before' dates and their relationship to quality rather than safety.


Croptracker helps growers cut down on food waste at the production level with its post-harvest management support, including robust storage and packing apps.  Need a refresher on any of Croptracker's features? Head over to our Knowledge Base, where you'll find step-by-step tutorials as well as common troubleshooting tips and more.  And as always, if you're ever stuck, never hesitate to e-mail us at or Live Chat with us by clicking the green speech bubble helpicon in your bottom right-hand corner.  We're always happy to help you let Croptracker make your farm become more efficient, safe, and profitable!



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