New labelling for food

New labelling for products is intended to reduce food waste in private households, supplementing the best-before date with the statement “Often good for longer”.

Misunderstandings and misinterpretation are leading German consumers to throw away thousands of tons of food products that have reached their best-before date (BBD). According to a study by the European Commission, as much as 10 per cent of food waste in the EU is connected with date labelling.

The “Too Good To Go” movement is now promoting the addition “Often good for longer” to the best-before date, which is intended to make customers aware that food is often still perfectly edible after the BBD. This is a decisive move towards changing general consumer perception of shelf life for the first time.

By the end of 2019, more than 25 food manufacturers and retailers were participating. Products such as yoghurt, milk, coconut oil, lemonade, tea, beer, muesli and chocolate will get the additional message “Often good for longer”. In retailing, Alnatura, BIO COMPANY, dennree, dm-drogerie markt, Lidl, Kaufland, Penny and tegut are supporting the campaign with their private labels. Producers supporting the campaign include Andechser Molkerei Scheitz, Arla Foods, Bio Planete, Bürger, Caffeezza, Danone, Dörrwerk, Edamama, Egenberger Lebensmittel, FollowFood, FrieslandCampina, Fude + Serrahn, Kaufland, Knödelkult, LemonAid/ChariTea, mymuesli, share, TeeGschwendner, TeeVia, Quartiermeister and Unilever.

According to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, 6.1 million tons of food end up in private household rubbish. A frequent reason for this is that almost half of all Germans confuse the best-before date with the use-by date. As a result, food is thrown away out of ignorance, even though it is still edible. The BBD is merely the latest date by which a packaged food can be stored and consumed while retaining its specific properties such as taste and consistency. However, the food is often good for longer and can usually be eaten even after the BBD. The “Look-Smell-Taste” test makes it easy to determine whether a product can still be eaten.

Good experience in Denmark and Sweden

Arla Foods, for example, will use the addition “Often good for longer” on its Arla Skyr product from February 2020. This information will be printed directly next to the BBD. Other Arla products will follow in the course of 2020. Arla Foods will also use its digital channels to publicise the issue. The Arla Foods Group is already using the additional information on packaging for numerous dairy products in Denmark and Sweden. “This measure is a further component of our sustainability strategy which we want to use to further optimise food recycling. In this country, too, every food that is not thrown away counts. This is why we’re very pleased that ‘Often good for longer’ is now also coming to Germany. In Denmark and Sweden we’ve already had good experience with the additional information on our packaging. In future, we’d like to encourage German consumers as well to do even more against food waste – so that nutritious dairy products aren’t thrown away unnecessarily,” Markus Mühleisen, Arla Foods Germany CEO explains.