Among the major problems causing waste in the supply and retail arenas is the current use of “Best Before” tagging and this is being recognized in many parts of the world. So the persistent use of this labeling in this country may well be on the agenda in 2016.
It is accepted by most suppliers and retailers that the phrase is particularly meaningless in that the products involved generally have extensive periods beyond those listed dates and large on-sale periods are being missed by perfectly safe products.
Quality standards are vigorously analysed by all responsible suppliers and it is certain that our retail partners would appreciate the increased shelf life and product exposure. The current stated shelf life covering distribution, storage, retail and use expects that the product will remain safe and suitable and this is part of the current food standards code. It is accepted that a “Use By” date is required for safety reasons but the dismissal of product on shelf because it is beyond its “Best Before” timing is simply a waste – and the industry is having major problems with waste.
There are currently many products in our marketplace that are forced to use this guide to quality and it has been estimated that around 15% of grocery items are thrown away by households each year – and a much higher level of waste is occurring at retail simply to avoid confusion.
It is expected that the issue will be taken up by the Consumer organisation in 2016 with pressure from other quarters. For manufacturers, it’s another line than can be removed from labels and a level of waste avoided in the supply chain.