Groceries delivered by Ocado have been found to have the longest average time left before their use-by dates, a new report has found.
According to consumer research company Which?, the online supermarket came out on top in the investigation, with an average shelf life of over 11 days.
As part of the research, Which? ordered 1,800 items to test the average shelf life at six retailers – including Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
Once the shoppers had received their groceries, researchers added the number of full hours and days remaining from the time of delivery until midnight on the use-by date of each item. They then calculated an average time for each supermarket.
Sainsbury’s groceries had the shortest average shelf life at 9.7 days. The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain even sent one shopper a packet of chilled frankfurters that were already 11 days out of date.
However, Sainsbury’s also delivered a single item with the longest shelf life out of the tested products – a stilton that could be consumed within the next 37 days.
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The consumer group found a gap of 38 hours between the longest and shortest average shelf life for the perishable items.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told The Guardian: “Our grocery online shoppers are trained to pick the longest date and best available products for customers’ deliveries. We deliver more than 85,000 orders a day on average and are sorry that this tiny number of examples has not lived up to our usual high service.”
They added: “If customers are not happy with the freshness or quality of their groceries, they are able to return products to our drivers at the doorstep for a full refund or contact our careline for help.”
A spokesperson for Ocado praised its “clever technology”, used to forecast demand, and shorter supply chain for minimising waste and increasing freshness since its products don’t sit around on a shelf.
Ele Clark, retail editor for Which? said: “Shoppers should never have to pay for groceries that are not at their best. Customers not satisfied with their supermarket delivery can complain to the driver or contact the supermarket to get their money back.
“Any foods that have gone past their use-by date can be dangerous to eat, so it’s not worth the gamble, even if it smells and looks OK.”
The news comes as grocery price inflation has fallen for the third consecutive month to the lowest level since 2022, according to new data from Kantar.