Morrisons is scrapping date labels and removing ‘Display Until’ messaging on nearly 200 of its fresh fruit, vegetable and salad items including traditional Christmas dinner favourites.

The changes are being made to urge customers to use their own judgement as to whether produce is good to eat after being bought and stored at home. It aims to help shoppers reduce food waste and save money.

A survey by WRAP shows that UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of food, costing the average family £720 per year1. WRAP also cites fresh potatoes and carrots as some of the top wasted produce items in the home2.

According to WRAP, enough potatoes are thrown away annually by UK homes to produce Christmas Day roasties for the whole country for the next 48 years while the carrots we waste weigh the same as 636,000 reindeers.

Morrisons has already started to scrap dates on produce labels ahead of the start of the big Christmas food shop in mid-December. Whilst some items will have their dates removed completely, such as bananas, watermelon and pineapple, most will be replaced by a code system, which will be used by Morrisons colleagues to ensure the same freshness on shelf.

Next year, Morrisons aims to update its packaging for more perishable pre-packed products such as berries, grapes and stone fruit. The changes will see them move away from ‘Display Until’ and introduce ‘Best Before’ labelling to indicate the quality of produce to customers. At home most produce can be kept in the fridge below 5°C to help keep it fresher for longer. In fact, fresh potatoes bought for the festive period could be fine to eat well into 2023 if stored in this way.

This move is one of the latest initiatives by Morrisons who are committed to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. Earlier this year, it was the first to replace ‘Use By’ dates with ‘Best Before’ dates on its own brand milk. In 2020, Morrisons also replaced ‘Use By’ dates across some of its own-brand yoghurt and hard cheese ranges.

Morrisons is also leading the way in offering over 75 types of loose fruit and vegetables throughout the year, allowing customers to buy only what they need and minimise food waste as well as single use plastics in their home.

Damon Johnson, head of technical produce and horticulture said: “People tend to over buy food for Christmas dinner to ensure plenty for all but by cooking what you need, saving veg for meals between Christmas and New Year as well as enjoying leftovers, budgets can go further.

“Now more than ever it’s important to help our customers to reduce their food waste. We hope by removing dates from our produce lines, changing our messaging on packs and by providing our customers with advice on storage, we can support households in extending the life of their food and save customers money this Christmas.”

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP, said: “WRAP is thrilled to see these changes from Morrisons on its products to help tackle food waste in our homes. Wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money. The right date label, or no date label, has a big influence on what we use and what we throw away. For most fruit and veg, date labels are unnecessary, and our research has shown that removing them can save the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets’ worth from our household bins a year. Storing most fruit and veg products in the fridge, below 5 degrees, will keep them fresher longer.

“We call on more retailers to make these changes. The average family in the UK throws away over £700 worth of food a year – check out Love Food Hate Waste for tips on how to reduce food waste, save money and fight climate change.”

Morrisons recently launched a new ‘Sustain Hub’ online with top tips to reduce food waste, ways to store food for longer and utilise leftover ingredients to create new recipes - all of which aim to help customers save money.

Morrisons ‘Unsold Food’ programme works with a range of partners including Too Good to Go, The Bread and Butter Thing and local food banks, charities and community groups, to ensure food can be redistributed. Where food cannot be redistributed, Morrisons uses anaerobic digestion to generate electricity, which in turn contributes to renewable energy generation across the UK.