Nick Cornwell, head of food technical at the Co-op, said: “Yoghurt can be safe to eat if stored unopened in a fridge after the date mark shown, so we have made the move to best before dates to help reduce food waste.”
The change was announced on Earth Day, the annual event on to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
Sustainability organisation Wrap estimates that 50% of yoghurts are thrown away in unopened packs and 70% of the all the yoghurt wasted in the home is due to yoghurts not being used in time, with the date label cited as the reason.
Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap, said: “Wasting food feeds climate change and costs money. Applying a best before date helps give people the confidence to use their judgement to eat beyond a best before date and use more of the yoghurt they buy – protecting the planet and their pockets.”
Use by dates are linked to food safety and guide shoppers to not consume past the specified date, whereas best before dates refer to quality and often allows for the food to be eaten after that date.
Co-op already has initaitives in place to tackle its own in-store food waste and supports thousands of local community groups by donating and redistributing surplus food through its food share programme.
Since 2015 the retailer has also diverted more than five million meals worth of food through its partnership with charity FareShare.
Several retailers have made similar recent product changes aimed at reducing waste and environmental impact. In January, UK supermarket Morrisons became the first retailer to ditch use-by dates on its milk, while this week pharmacist Boots made a commitment to remove all plastic-fibre wet wipes from its shelves by the end of the year.