44% of UK shoppers want best-before date discounts to help cut grocery bill

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With retailers removing best-before dates to reduce food waste, UK consumers still want supermarkets to offer discounts on goods nearing expiry, according to the latest data from Retail Insight, provider of store operations execution software.

With WRAP estimating the UK retail sector was responsible for 200,000 tonnes of food waste last year, supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have already opted to remove best-before dates from fresh fruit and veg in a bid to reduce wasted food.  More recently, other grocers, including Aldi and M&S, have taken a similar course of action and removed use-by dates on fresh milk items.

Original research of over 1,000 UK shoppers by Retail Insight revealed that almost two-thirds (65%) agreed that supermarkets removing best-before dates will help reduce food waste, and 84% think retailers should still offer markdowns on fresh food that is past its best.  A further 44% of price-sensitive consumers wanted retailers to reinstate best-before dates - and their associated discounting - to make their food budgets go further.

As food prices remain high, 86% said that inflation has made them more budget-conscious, and a further 82% are trying to reduce food bills to cut their outgoings, up +16% year-on-year.  This is prompting shoppers to increasingly rely on discounted grocery goods or items nearing their best-before dates that are reduced, according to Retail Insight’s research. 

Two-fifths (40%) of shoppers now tend to only buy food items that are reduced in price, with 37% buying near-expiry groceries to keep food bills down.  Meanwhile, a further 30% buy more marked-down groceries than they used to.  Shoppers are also altering their routines to make the most of marked-down goods; 44% now shop towards the end of the day when food items are more likely to be discounted. 

Paul Boyle, CEO of Retail Insight, commented: “Retailers are trying to strike a balance between meeting ESG commitments around food waste, increasing sell through and maintaining customer satisfaction. By leveraging dynamic markdown capabilities, retailers can accommodate all of these needs.”  

“Instead of using static markdowns, which apply binary discounts at stages leading to the end of a product’s shelf life, dynamic markdowns calculate a product's optimal discount price, which reduces the waste bill by maximising sell-through and minimising loss, ensuring margin and demand opportunities aren’t left on the table,” he concluded.

Retail Insight’s cloud-based solution, WasteInsight, uses cognitive technology to put retailers in control of food waste through data-led, actionable insights that support their entire waste journey. As well as enabling dynamic markdowns, WasteInsight addresses expiration management, enables more efficient donations to charity partners and improves forecasting accuracy to allow retailers to sell more while wasting less.

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