Adam Read, global practice director, AEA
Yes. I think the move to scrap sell by dates is a good one, helping to simplify the situation for consumers about the food they buy and when it is edible by, the best before date. However, without a clear campaign of communication and in-store help for the first few months of any switch this will lead to a degree of chaos and confusion, which may not reduce food waste arisings at all, or may have the undesired consequence of increasing food waste. It needs careful management and delivery, and will mean the use-by date becomes more significant.
Alan Davey, director of innovation, Linpac Packaging
Yes. Consumers are time-pressured and largely unsophisticated. They are also scared stiff by a succession of food scares and conditioned to reject anything even slightly suspect. Removing an indicator that even hints at degrading food quality will reduce wastage.
But design of packaging plays an even greater role. We should pursue a powerful series of techniques through which we can increase shelf life, improve re-sealability of packs, and reflect consumer needs via portion control and packs that separate.
Catherine Feechan, corporate partner, Brodies
Yes, but they haven’t gone far enough. If the aim is to reduce the amount of wastage there is a compelling argument that use-by dates should be the only required date on food packaging. Currently there is a wide variety of dates on our food. Foods with a use-by date are dangerous to eat after that point and the public needs to be protected. But other dates are used on foods that won’t do you any harm, even if eaten after that date. They are misleading for the public and create waste. The focus should be on putting the most important information on labels.
Will Edwards, general manager, Domino UK
Yes. From a consumer point of view, the removal of these codes is a positive one. It will bring more clarity to the end user and will help minimise food wastage.
But there are other issues that relate to how much food we waste as well as legislative changes. From a business point of view, I don’t believe that the scrapping of sell by dates will have a significant impact on Domino. In terms of coding and marking on food products, we can see a general trend in people wanting greater traceability and more data on packaging, not less.