Questionable Trend of the Week: Expired Grocery Food Trading


Fresh grocery food: it’s just so…expensive. Perhaps that’s why sites shilling out-of-date items have become so popular, with one U.K. site reporting a whopping 500% increase in sales from December 2008 to the same time in 2009.

The Guardian reports:

Food charities estimate that more than seventeen million tonnes of
surplus food, including fresh produce, is dumped by supermarkets in
landfill every year, with a sales value of more than £18bn.Most
of the goods sold on discount sites are past their “best-before dates”
but not the “use-by” dates, and have been bought at knocked-down prices
from wholesalers, suppliers and supermarkets.

The food sold on sites like Food Bargains isn’t dangerous. And once consumers get past the “ick” factor, they’ll discover that expired Hershey’s chocolate or canned tuna tastes the same as the fresh stuff. Expired food is cheap, too–Approved Food estimates that customers save 75% compared to average retail prices.

So far, it seems like the trend is limited to the U.K., but the U.S. has the same problem with expired-but-good food being tossed into the trash on a daily basis. At this point, most of the good stuff goes to organizations like Feeding America that distribute “unsalable” products like expired goods, bruised fruit, and items with missing labels to food pantries and soup kitchens. But would you turn down a slightly expired cart of groceries if it would save much-needed cash?

[Via Guardian]