Web-prevented Waste

A Scottish entrepreneur just launched a site that will enable grocers to sell goods approaching their ‘best by’ date to bargain hunting consumers.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what the site is called. That’s because this article–in a stunning feat of journalistic incompetence–doesn’t provide the name or URL. While I’m complaining, a second source (on this new site’s prospects) wouldn’t hurt the article, either.

The piece does mention Approved Food, a similar site with a niche in nearly out-of-code items. I found their About Us page encouraging, and it even has a dash of humor:

We specialise in selling short-dated or out-of-date “Best Before” dry food products as well as fully coded clearance stock. We do not however sell chilled or frozen “Use By” products.

Some people believe consuming food & drink that has passed its “best before” dates is unacceptable and these people might be better of shopping at www.tesco.com [a high end British grocer].

Our customers have a more educated view on best before dates and what these actually mean. And for these people, Approved Food can offer fantastic value that no supermarket can ever compete with on price.

I’m curious, would you ever buy goods past their “best-by” date? What about their “sell-by” date? And if either one is a ‘yes,’ would you do so over the Web?

Update: the previously unnamed site is Nearly Out of Date.

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  1. janes'_kid
    Posted April 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    40-50 years ago many supermarkets put carts of old products near the entrance, often labeled half price. I don’t recall if they had pull dates back then or not.

    Myself and others of my acquaintance would shop these carts. Plan meals around the old stuff.

    WalMart in our community marks down steak when it gets near the pull date. I look specifically for this as I was taught in Ag school that “aged” beef was better.

    I recently learned that at WalMart the employees grab up almost anything marked down because it is nearing the pull date explaining why I so seldom find the steak at reduced prices.

  2. Karen
    Posted April 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I do sometimes buy food at the store past the best-by or sell-by date. (Never really had to think about it until I came to NY, where the stores seem to have appalling shelf-stocking habits.) Generally it’s only when I know I will use the item up quickly, or with baked goods, where the date usually indicates freshness rather than expiration. For example I have seen Pepperidge Farm stores that specialize in steeply discounted bakery items, like cookies, which are just past the best-by date.

    Over the internet, though? That kind of crosses the line for me, considering the food will spend extra time in shipping.

  3. Posted April 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I recently bought a pound of ground turkey for 99 cents, just because it was one day BEFORE the “sell by” date. It even happened to be on my shopping list that week.

    I don’t think it’s a problem to eat things like yogurt, chocolate chips, dried fruit and nuts past their date. Don’t know if I would do it online. Maybe, if I got used to the seller.

  4. Posted April 14, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I frequently buy produce that is reduced for quick sale, not the same as there isn’t a date stamped on it, but often it’s been reduced because it is clearly going bad, not just because it isn’t pretty.

    I don’t know if I would buy stuff past the sell-by or best-by. I would certainly dumpster dive it. But I also rarely eat processed foods like say crackers or cookies, so I’m probably not a good person to ask.

    If there was a processed or packaged food that I routinely ate, it was deeply discounted and I knew I would use it quickly, I’d probably buy it.

  5. William
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    It depends. I’ll buy almost anything past its “best buy” date, because it’ll still be good and tasty. “Sell by” is different. The summary is I wouldn’t buy meat or dairy, and would consider anything else.

    Meat: I won’t touch it. If it’s ground meat I won’t buy it unless it’s several days before the “sell by” date – ground meat goes bad too fast.

    Milk products/cottage cheese & soft cheese: won’t touch milk/cottage cheese, probably wouldn’t get the soft cheese.

    Eggs & hard cheese: definitely. Eggs can last weeks past their sell-by date if stored correctly. Hard cheese is probably OK, I’d trust my senses.

    Produce: I trust my senses more than I trust an arbitrary date.

    Frozen food: probably unless I had reason to think it was improperly stored.

    Shelf food (crackers, cereal, and other processed foods stored at room temp): yes, unless something was wrong with it, such as the box being torn.

    Medicines: wouldn’t touch it, although sell-by dates do not related to the actual efficacy of the medicine.

  6. Alicia
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    A Google search of Ray Conn (the entrepreneur mentioned in the article) yielded his website, http://www.nearlyoutofdate.com. The idea is great, but the execution is sorely lacking. There doesn’t seem to be any editorial filtering of what gets added to the database, and the “New/Expiring Items” list shows an incomprehensible array of items including kilts.

  7. Posted November 12, 2009 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Hi All,
    Just found this site. It is me, Ray Conn the guy who came up with this idea.
    The reason the kilts were on the site was just to test it.
    I have been talking to the larger supermarket groups in the UK and apart from one, I was not able to get past stage two and that was pretty low down.
    You see, what they say to the press and what they actually do are not the same. A bit like “blowing in the wind”.
    Recently, I have been recording a new CD http://www.bigballadray.com you can hear all the tracks for free.
    last week (Nov 7th) I met with the owners of Budgens Supermarkets in London and they will be the first to come in.
    The site is free to list the goods, free to search and free advetising. No information is sold.
    Being rich is not that great, believe me I have had a go. You tend to ignore a lot of important issues.
    Keep looking at the site and if you have a store near you that wants to list, talk to them. This site gives a level playing field to all.
    Kind Regards.

  8. Posted November 13, 2009 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Hey Ray, or should I call you Big Ballad Ray? Either way,
    thanks for stopping by. I hope your luck improves with the larger supermarkets and do keep us posted. It’s an interesting site you have there…

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