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Short Dated Food Wholesale

8th July 2024

Short Dated Food Wholesale

We’ve touched on end-of-line and surplus stock items, such as clothing and electrical gadgets, being given a second home. But did you know, you can also do the same for food that is coming to the end of its best before date?

If you work in the food wholesale industry, short-dated food can be just the thing to increase your profit margins. It can also reduce food waste, contributing to a more sustainable business ethos.

With the right strategies in place, you can effectively manage inventory, control costs, and optimise your pricing to attract a wider customer base.

The Concept of Short-Dated Food Products

First things first, let’s explore the concept of short-dated foods. Short-dated food products refer to items that are nearing their best before date, but are still safe for consumption.

These products often have a shelf life of between a few days to a few months.

Unlike long-dated products, which have a longer shelf life, short-dated foods are typically sold at a discount by manufacturers or distributors. This is because retailers and consumers are less likely to purchase these items at full price, as they have a perceived limited window of time to be consumed.

The concept of short-dated food wholesale has gained traction in recent years, as consumers have become more conscious of food waste and the environmental impact of discarding edible products.

By acquiring short-dated food products at a lower cost, wholesalers can then resell them to customers at a discounted rate, whilst still maintaining a healthy profit margin.

UK Labelling Terms

Before we go any further, we need to make clear the labelling terms for short-dated food in the UK.

  • Use By” and “Expiration” / “Expiry” Dates: These terms mean that the item should not be consumed after this date as it could pose a health risk. “Use By” is most often used on fresh food, whereas “Expiration” or “Expiry” are usually seen on medications, and (less often in the UK) on ambient food and drink items.

  • “Display Until” and “Sell By” Dates: These are mainly present for the benefit of store staff and stock control.

  • “Best Before” Date: This indicates quality rather than safety. Foods can be consumed after this date, but their quality may slowly start to degrade after the specified date.

If the stock is intended for sale in the UK, the buyer should ensure that the shelf life dates are printed as “best before” rather than any of the alternative terms.

Retailing stock which is past the “best before” date is completely legal, whereas stock printed with an expiry date would be unlawful to sell on if the date has already passed.

The Advantages of Short-Dated Food Wholesale

There are many advantages to buying short-dated food wholesale:

  • Increased profit margins. As you’re acquiring these products at a lower cost, so you can sell them onto your customers for a reduced price, but still maintain a healthy mark-up. This can be particularly beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses that are looking to stay competitive in the crowded food wholesale market.

  • Sustainable business model. Food waste has significant environmental and social implications. Short-dated food wholesale can contribute to a more sustainable model for your business. By making such items available to their customers, wholesalers can play a role in addressing the global issue of food waste. This can help to enhance your company reputation and appeal to the ever increasing environmentally-conscious consumers.

  • More diverse product range. Buying short-dated food gives you the ability to offer a diverse range of products to your customers. By sourcing short-dated items, wholesalers can expand their product selection and cater to a wider range of consumer preferences. This can help to attract new customers and retain existing ones, ultimately leading to increased sales and revenue.

The Challenges and Risks in Short-Dated Food

Whilst short-dated food wholesale presents numerous opportunities, it also comes with a fair share of challenges and risks. Here are a few, along with guidance on how you can minimise any potential risk:

  • Spoilage / quality degradation. As these items are nearing their perceived shelf life, they may be more susceptible to spoilage or a decline in freshness. It is important to ensure you understand how your food items should be stored to preserve the quality of the goods for as long as possible.

  • Lack of organisation. The need for efficient inventory management is vital when it comes to short-dated food. Wholesalers must carefully monitor the best before dates of their products and plan their sales and distribution accordingly. This requires a high level of organisation and attention to detail. This will avoid the risk of goods remaining unsold beyond their perceived shelf life.

  • Legal requirements. Wholesalers must ensure that they are compliant with all relevant laws and regulations to avoid potential fines or legal issues.

Marketing Strategies for Selling Short-Dated Food Products

Effective marketing strategies are key to successfully wholesaling short-dated food products.

One approach is to emphasise the value proposition of short-dated food products. Highlight the significant cost savings that customers can enjoy while still accessing fresh, quality items. This can be achieved through targeted advertising, social media campaigns, or in-store promotions that showcase the discounted pricing and the limited availability of the short-dated goods.

Another strategy is to leverage the growing trend of sustainability and environmental consciousness among consumers. By positioning short-dated food wholesale as a solution to reducing food waste, wholesalers can appeal to a broader audience of socially-responsible buyers. This can be done through educational content, partnerships with local food banks or charities, or by highlighting the environmental impact of the business’s efforts to minimise waste.

Pricing Strategies for Maximising Profits

Developing effective pricing strategies is crucial for maximising profits, when it comes to short-dated food. Wholesalers must strike a delicate balance between offering competitive prices that attract customers and maintaining sufficient profit margins to sustain their business.

One effective strategy to pricing short-dated food products is to base the discounted price on the remaining shelf life of the item. The closer the product is to its best before date, the deeper the discount can be.

This strategy allows wholesalers to move inventory quickly, whilst still generating a reasonable profit. However, it’s essential to carefully monitor market conditions and competitor pricing to ensure that the discounts remain attractive to customers.

Another renowned pricing strategy is to bundle short-dated food products with complementary items or offer volume discounts. By creating attractive package deals or encouraging bulk purchases, wholesalers can incentivise customers to buy more, ultimately increasing their overall sales and profitability.

This approach can also help to reduce the risk of unsold inventory going too far beyond its best before date.


In conclusion, short-dated food presents a compelling opportunity for food wholesalers to maximise profits and contribute to a more sustainable food offering.

By understanding the concept of short-dated products, leveraging the advantages, and navigating the challenges, wholesalers can position their businesses for long-term success in this dynamic market.

Canny Cat Trading regularly supply short-dated food. The following are short-dated food examples that we’ve previously dealt with:

  • Coffee
  • Iced tea drinks
  • Hot chocolate
  • Beer and spirits
  • Energy drinks
  • Coffee syrup
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Crackers
  • Tomato ketchup & barbeque sauce
  • Crisps

Unlock the full potential of short-dated food wholesale today and position your business for long-term growth and success.

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