87% of Products Are Now Using Two Date Labels, Creating Needed Clarity

New survey data says less confusion will help Americans waste less, save more

WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association today 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 launching in 2017, 87 percent of products now carry the streamlined labels, according to the latest data from consumer packaged goods companies that was released in GMA’s new report, Best If Clearly Labeled.

“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 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%) 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%) or food’s appearance (30%), most commonly, they determine whether to throw food away based on the dates on the label (44%).

The two definitions of “BEST If Used By” and “USE By” are clear to nearly nine-in-ten (88%) 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 1) feeling safer about the foods they eat; 2) believing they would throw less away; 3) saving money by throwing less away; and 4) 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. Join the conversation using the hashtag #10ItemsLess.

For more information on the date labeling issue, please see GMA’s new report, Best If Clearly Labeled.

Survey Methodologies: Product data is derived from a December 2018 survey of 43 consumer packaged goods companies representing 39,308 SKUs. All other data is taken from GMA’s online survey conducted from December 7-9, 2018 of 1,002 American adults through Google Consumer Surveys. More information on methodology is available here.

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people in our nation and around world. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives. For more information, visit gmaonline.org.

Source: GMA