Last updated on September 26th, 2017 at 09:47 am
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a network of 400 of the largest consumer goods companies in 70 countries, has approved a plan to standardize food date labels worldwide by 2020.
The CGF Board of Directors unanimously endorsed “A Call To Action” simplifying date labels. The companies include Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup Co., Bimbo, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Carrefour and Unilever.
The Call to Action encourages retailers and food producers to take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste by 2020. These steps are:
- Simplify one label at a time.
- Use one expiration date for perishable items (e.g., “Use by”) and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items (e.g., “Best if used by”). The exact wording will be tailored to regional context.
- Implement consumer education to help them better understand what date labels mean.
In addition to the labels on products, the Call to Action recommends companies partner with nonprofit organizations and government agencies to educate consumers about how to interpret date labels. Education efforts could include in-store displays, web materials and public service announcements.
Many consumers don’t know, for example, that many products are still safe to eat past the “Best if used by” date.
“Four years ago, Tesco was one of the first retailers to roll out single date coding across our fresh food and meat produce. All the evidence from WRAP and our own Tesco research has shown that streamlining date codes helps customers waste less food and it also reduces waste in our own operations. That’s why it’s so important we extend this practice to more companies in every country. Streamlining date labels worldwide by 2020 could be game-changing in the fight against global food waste,” said Dave Lewis, group chief executive of Tesco.
“Kellogg Co. is working to reduce food loss and waste along the production and supply chains, and we want to encourage consumers to be part of the solution, too. As a global food company, we work to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and protect the planet,” said Maria Fernanda Mejia, SVP of Kellogg Co. and president of Kellogg Latin America.
“Walmart has worked with its suppliers to support the use of standardized date labels that provide consistent and transparent information to better reflect product’s shelf life,” said Katherine Neebe, director for sustainability at Walmart. “I commend CGF for leveraging their influence to support customer-friendly labeling practices.”