Tips to Prevent Food Spoilage in Your Supermarket

Every year, supermarkets in the UK throw away over 282,000 tonnes of food. This is a waste for all parties involved and if you own a supermarket, it’s in your best interest to keep your food from spoiling. Unfortunately, a large amount of food spoilage is due to poor practices within the supermarket, which are completely preventable.

The tips in this article will help keep your food fresh as long as possible, so you can sell it instead of throwing it out. This means savings for everyone.

Look for the Freshest Products

The fresher the food, the longer it will last. It makes sense to choose the best quality products to offer your customers. They’ll appreciate the better quality and you’ll appreciate the longevity.

Unfortunately, many products, particularly produce, spend so much time on trucks and in warehouses that it doesn’t stay fresh nearly as long as you might expect once it reaches your shelves. Local produce will arrive sooner after it’s harvested and you can enjoy a much longer shelf life.

Offer Discounts

It’s better to sell at a discount than to throw food in the rubbish. If something is damaged and is less likely to sell, you can often ensure the food is sold by offering a discount. One of the biggest problems with consumers now is that they are used to food looking perfect. An apple with a tiny spot on it is no longer acceptable and they will turn it away. Likewise, a container of yoghurt can be barely scratched and no one will want to buy it. However, if you offer it at a discount, it’s more likely that a consumer will purchase it.

You can also do this to sell off products as they get closer to their best by date. If you have milk that only has a week left before the date, you can offer it at a discount to ensure it is purchased, rather than thrown away.

If you use this method, be sure to keep back the versions of the same product that have a much longer time before their best by date. Otherwise, people will purchase the fresher options and leave you with the older products still.

Avoid Placing Items on Display

When you have a heap of lovely apples in the store, it can be attractive to clients, but it also means those apples will go bad faster. With perishables, you have to be very careful with how you display them. If they spend too much time at room temperature, you will end up with a loss.

It’s not just the room temperature displays that can be an issue, however. Even the cooling racks can still be warmer than the back room. To avoid large amounts of waste, aim to have compact displays where you can and keep the majority of the produce and fresh ingredients in the cold room where they will stay fresh longer.

If you do place more items out, be sure to follow the trends. Build a larger display with the fruit of the week or the produce that everyone wants. You can often predict these trends by following social media, where everyone jumps on food trends.

Track Everything

Keeping inventory is an important part of managing a grocery or supermarket. If you haven’t been tracking very closely, you may not realise exactly how much of each product is being thrown away due to expiration or simply because it is starting to deteriorate. You need to keep an eye on all of this and there is plenty of new tech that can help.

When you study the trends in your products, you’ll notice exactly what is selling and when you should buy more. With the right computer software, you can even track trends and adjust your purchase amounts to ensure you aren’t buying too much that it will simply go to waste.

While everything should be tracked, perishables are the most difficult. They can go off rather rapidly and need to be monitored.

Use the Correct Temperatures

Temperature has a huge impact on how long food lasts and stays unspoiled. The actual temperature will depend on the product. Here are some common foods and the temperatures that work best for them:

  • Milk and yoghourt should be kept between 0-4°C.
  • Cheese prefers temperatures of 5-10°C.
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens should be kept at 0-2°C.
  • Tomatoes and cucumbers do best when kept between 7-10°C.
  • Berries, grapes, and other soft fruits are normally kept at 0°C or slightly above for best freshness.

Do your research to ensure all your fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products, are kept at their optimum temperatures. When properly chilled, these items can last quite some time. For example, grapes kept at 0°C will last for up to two months.

While products like cream, milk, and cheese may last longer at the right temperature, they also have an expiration date which must be observed. This is regardless of whether or not the product is still edible or not, so it’s best to sell the items off at a discount when the date approaches.

Plan for Failure

At some point, you’re likely to have an issue where your cold room or refrigerators stop working. The best way to prevent food from spoiling if this occurs is to have a backup plan. This may include:

  • Keeping extra parts for fridges: If something happens, you have the ability to fix it rather rapidly.
  • Invest in a generator: When the power goes out, you need to have the assurance that your fridges and freezers will continue to run.
  • Have an extra fridge: Need a new fridge? While you’re waiting, put everything in your backup fridge, which may be an older one that was replaced, but still works. Anything will do if it keeps items cold.
  • Keep the cold room cold: You have some time if there is something wrong with the cold room. The sheer number of cold items inside will help keep it cool, along with the insulation. However, you’ll still want to get help as soon as possible.

When you plan for something to go wrong, you will be able to react rapidly if there’s an emergency.

Store Raw and Cooked Separately

You likely already do this, but it’s worth mentioning as it is so important. Raw foods and cooked food should be kept in separate areas to prevent cross-contamination. This is particularly important with meats, but can also be relevant to other types of food. For example, cheese should not be in the same space as raw pork and beef.

Food that is meant to be eaten as is, such as yoghurt, deli meat, cheese, and butter, can become contaminated if kept near raw meat. All it takes is a little liquid from a tray of raw chicken breasts dripping onto a packet of cheese and you have potential salmonella brewing. People can become ill because they’re not likely to wash the cheese package before opening it and handling the cheese. The possibility of contamination is real.

It’s also likely that even if no one takes that cheese, it will begin to smell off rather rapidly, due to the fact that the cheese lasts longer than the chicken. While it won’t actually affect the cheese and its spoilage, it can create a poor image for the supermarket.

If you do use the same refrigerated space for both raw meats and ready-to-eat foods, keep the packaged cheese, butter, juices, etc. on the higher shelves and the meat on the lower ones. This helps prevent contamination, as any drips will be at the bottom of the fridge.

Keep Produce Dry

Most produce lasts longer if it’s kept dry. You can wipe it all down before putting it into the display cases, but try to avoid soaking it. The exception is any type of leafy green, as these usually perk up with a little moisture. Just don’t overdo it and never let them sit in water.

Dry produce is less likely to rot, so watch for condensation in bags and plastic containers, too. You may need to take steps to prevent condensation.

With the proper care, you may be surprised at how little spoilage there is. It’s a matter of managing things properly and ensuring the temperatures remain stable.

Are you looking for a source of high-quality dairy products, bakery products, and juices? At Freshways, we pride ourselves on providing the best choices for your supermarket. We’re happy to provide you with fresh ingredients and are thrilled to offer advice on how to keep everything that way for as long as possible. Browse our catalogue today.