The demand for expired food items, or ones that are about to exceed shelf life, is booming.

The demand is so high that certain stores dedicated to selling said products have undergone renovation to accommodate the growing consumer needs.

Usually meant to be tossed in the garbage, short-dated or outdated food items are now a hot commodity for people who are falling short of money for budget shopping, USA Today reported.

Grocery prices have spiked by 13% since the last year due to the ongoing record inflation. The Consumer Price Index data for food at home went up by 9.81% since November 2021, compared to 5.79% for food away from home.

A Food Dive study from September, which surveyed 2000 consumers, noted that 46% of participants disregarded the expiration date on food items altogether, while six out of 10 consumers reported buying short-dated food products due to slashed prices. The study also concluded that 16.6% of shoppers began bargain shopping this year amid ongoing record inflation, according to NewsNation.

Ron Rojas, the owner of Continental Sales Lots 4 Less in Chicago, Illinois, told the outlet that while he has been in the short-dated and outdated food-selling business for 40 years, it was only this year that he needed to make renovations to accommodate shoppers highly favoring these products.

"In the last six to eight weeks, we just had to add two more shopping lanes to accommodate all the increased traffic. Sometimes you see a line that goes back as far as 200 feet," Rojas added. "I would say, starting in September, it really started picking up more."

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), not all food items past expiry dates need to be tossed out. Food that was forgotten in the freezer, pantry items including canned food (as long as the can looks in good condition) and packaged food products including pasta and cereal are safe for consumption, although they may "become stale or develop an off flavor."

USDA estimates that 30% of the food supply is lost or wasted at the retails and consumer levels, and one source of wholesome food wastage arises from confusion about the dates displayed on the label. In fact, nearly 40% of all food in America or 108 billion pounds of food is thrown out, as per a study.

"Foods not exhibiting signs of spoilage should be wholesome and may be sold, purchased, donated and consumed beyond the labeled 'best if used by' date," USDA also said.

However, the department listed baby formula as the only product that shouldn't be purchased or used after its "use-by" date.

Canned food
Canned food Angela/Pixabay