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GMA: Majority Of Products Now Using One Of Only Two Date Labels

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) this week shared the results of its date labeling initiative that narrowed the array of product labels to two options: “BEST If Used By” and “USE By.” Since the initiative’s 2017 launch, the percent of products now carry the streamlined labels has risen to 87 percent, according to the latest data from consumer packaged goods companies as reported in GMA’s “Best If Clearly Labeled” study.

“Our industry is committed to empowering consumers to make informed decisions about the products they bring into their homes,” said GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “This is a proactive industry that put forward a proactive solution to give American families the confidence and trust they deserve in the goods they buy.”

After uncovering widespread consumer confusion about the array of date labels, GMA joined with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and brought together 25 manufacturers and grocery retailers to develop the two streamlined options. 

New data from GMA proves the importance of clear, concise date labels. The vast majority (76 percent) of Americans shop for groceries at least once a week, but some of the food they bring home may not reach the table even if it is still safe to consume. While some Americans turn to the sniff test (24 percent) or food’s appearance (30 percent), most commonly, they determine whether to throw food away based on the dates on the label (44 percent).

The two definitions of “BEST If Used By” and “USE By” are clear to nearly 9 in ten (88 percent) respondents. Another 85 percent said moving to only those two labels would be helpful to them.

When asked how narrowed date labels would be helpful to Americans, the top benefits were feeling safer about the foods they eat; believing they would throw less away; saving money by throwing less away; and being more confident in the products they use.

“Date labeling is a step toward meaningful food waste reduction that makes it easier for Americans to shop smarter and throw away less,” Freeman added.

With widespread adoption of the streamlined labels, GMA is turning to social media to set a 2019 goal for every American household to throw out 10 items less than they did the year before. If every American household threw out ten fewer items, assuming an average item weight of eight ounces, that would be 638 million pounds less food waste. GMA is promoting the conversation on social media using the hashtag #10ItemsLess.

About the author

Alissa Marchat

A word nerd, grocery geek and three-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.

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