Coles super-size range triggers concern: 'Unsustainable'

If you're a shopper looking to save money on groceries, you're probaby familiar with the concept of bulk buying, with stores like Costco selling jumbo quantities of food for a fraction of the usual cost.

Coles is the latest supermarket chain to offer bulk buys, recently unveiling 44 super-sized household staples in its new "Big Pack Value" range.

The range, which includes 2kg jars of Bega peanut butter and 1.32kg tins of Milo, promises to deliver customers savings of up to 60 per cent.

But while stockpiling pantry staples may equate to short-term savings, buying in bulk can have its pitfalls.

Coles Big Value Pack range
Coles recently launched its Big Value Pack range of 44 products offered in value sized packs, including breakfast and family dinner staples, condiments, and pantry products. Photo: Supplied

"We buy things that we did not buy in the past. The problem is, it all contributes to an unsustainable food system," Australian science communicator and author Julian Cribb told Yahoo News.

Use-by dates on many pantry staples result in products going to waste if they're not used regularly, so not only will shoppers lose their savings if an item expires, they'll be contributing to Australia's massive food waste problem.

Food waste costing us billions

Australia produces 7.6 million tonnes of food waste each year, costing the economy around $36.6 billion annually, according to the National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study.

Cribb says the reasons for food waste include the lengthy process of getting food from the farm to the consumer; how food is handled, transported and stored; and food businesses over-catering. Then there is wastage at a household level, with food products put in the pantry or fridge and not seen again for another six months.

"Food waste means that one third of our farmers' efforts are being trashed. A third of the food Australia produces, nobody will ever eat," Cribb noted.

Woman pushing trolley past Coles storefront
Grocery bulk buys can have a positive impact on household budgets, but any advantages are lost when super-sized products are left to expire. Source: Getty Images

Way of life at stake

While keeping track of the extra-large products in your pantry may seem insignificant, doing so can minimise your contribution to our food waste problem, which Cribb says is putting our very livelihoods at risk.

"It's not the fault of Coles or any supermarket. It's the whole industrial food system that feeds the western world that is in danger of collapse," Cribb said, because this system "is endangering the very resources that are essential to produce food: soil, water, climate and human beings."

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