National Date Labelling and Storage Advice – Phase 1
Food date labels are confusing and storage advice instructions are inconsistent and unclear, leaving consumers baffled, storing food sub-optimally and sometimes throwing out edible food. In a consultation period over 2021-2022, industry, peak body and government stakeholders expressed a need for Australian data about labelling beyond what WRAP and our various CRC projects have provided thus far. This is because much of the existing research has focused on the role date marks and date labelling plays in consumer decisions and practices that lead to food waste in other jurisdictions. The scholarly literature suggests that the date and storage information on a pack has an indirect impact of packaging on a consumer’s decision to eat or discard food (Wilson et al., 2017). However, there is a consensus that on-pack date labelling also contributes to consumer food waste (Chu et al., 2020). Altogether, both the academic and industry literature points out the importance of date marks, date labelling and storage advice systems on packaged food to reduce the problem of food waste.
This research project addresses the FFW problem, by i) exploring how consumers use (or do not use) “use by” and “best before” dates labelling, and ii) investigating communications about storage advice systems (whether on-pack or off-peak), to make decisions about storing and using food and how these decisions might contribute to or reduce food waste.
The three key outcomes of this Phase 1 (of 2) will be to:
- Understand the state of play in the consumer food waste, date labelling, and storage advice systems theoretical and practice space;
- Understand consumers’ perceptions and comprehension of existing labelling and storage advice systems, and how they determine the freshness of foods;
- Review and refine initial pilot designs with the collective intelligence of multiple stakeholders; and,
- Establish the barriers and facilitators for change around the issue of date labelling and storage advice systems and their role in reducing consumer food waste. The goal is to overcome existing consumer myopia and engage with multiple stakeholders from industry and consumer perspectives.
As this project progresses and achieves its milestones, we’ll share the good news on this page by adding information, links, images, interviews and more.