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Retailer's donation not so sweet

A company encouraging customers to give $2 so it can buy a sweet treat for a local food bank has been criticised for donating stock past its best before date.

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United Sweets is a retailer that imports candy, snacks and drinks from the US, UK, Mexico and South Africa. The company runs an online store as well as kiosks in shopping malls across the country.

In the lead-up to Christmas, the company is inviting consumers to purchase a $2 “Sweet Treat” donation with their orders. It says it’ll use the money to buy candy for food banks.

United Sweets doesn’t mention the donated candy is old stock from its warehouse.

Director Susie Evans argued customers’ donations stretched twice as far because old stock was discounted.

"Once our warehouse has got rid of things that are just past their dates now, we’ll use the rest of the balance to order in candy from the people we buy candy from,” she said.

Matt Crawshaw from Wesley Community Action said its food bank received two parcels from United Sweets.

“It feels very much like they’re dumping their dated stock that they’d otherwise have to find some other way to get rid of,” he said.

While the food bank does occasionally distribute dated stock, it lets people know what they’re getting.

Mr Crawshaw said United Sweets had not approached the food bank to see if it wanted the goods.

“Literally with some of that stuff we may choose to bin it,” he said.

Ms Evans said she has since phoned most of the food banks to check the donated goods were useful. The company has also supplied Welsey Community Action with fresh fruit and fruit juices. She said United Sweets doesn’t dump dated stock – it sells it as clearance items instead.

DineAid is another initiative supporting food banks this Christmas. Through DineAid, customers at restaurants and cafes are encouraged to donate at least $2 per table at the end of their meal. But unlike United Sweets, DineAid will give the money directly to food banks.

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