IT’S A DATE
In an industry-wide effort to reduce consumer confusion about product date
and expiration labels, grocery manufacturers and retailers have joined together to
adopt standard wording on packaging about the quality and safety of products.
Currently more than 10 different terms are used, including Sell By, Use By,
Expires On, Best Before, Better if Used By and Best By. The new voluntary initia-
tive whittles that down to two standard phrases.
“BEST if Used By” describes product quality, where the product may not taste
or perform as expected but is still safe to use or consume. “Use By” applies to
products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time.
These products should be consumed by the date listed on the package—and dis-
posed of after that date.
The new initiative for common phrasing is led by the Food Marketing
Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
“Our product code dating initiative is the latest example of how retailers and
manufacturers are stepping up to help consumers and to reduce food waste,” says
Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of GMA, based in Washington, D.C.
“The shopper remains the most critical audience in our industry, and as the
associations representing major food brands and retailers, we want to encourage a
consistent vocabulary so that our customers clearly understand they are purchasing
products that are of the highest quality and safety possible,” says Leslie G. Sarasin,
The associations estimate that the effort could reduce total national food
waste by 8 percent.
History was made in 2016 when bottled water
surpassed carbonated beverages to become the
largest beverage category by volume in the U.S.
According to Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC),
total bottled water volume grew from 11. 8 billion gallons in 2015 to 12. 8 billion gallons in 2016, an increase
of nearly 9 percent, and the third year in a row of accelerated growth.
“Bottled water effectively reshaped the beverage
marketplace,” says Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO
of BMC, based in New York. “When Perrier first entered
the country in the 1970s, few would have predicted
the heights to which bottled water would eventually
climb. Where once it would have been unimaginable
to see Americans walking down the street carry plastic
bottles of water or driving around with them in their
cars’ cup holders, now that’s the norm.”
Except for two small declines in 2008 and 2009, bottled water volume
grew every year from 1977 to 2016, Bellas notes, including 17 double-digit
growth spurts. Per capita consumption exceeded 39 gallons in 2016, while
average intake of carbonated soft drinks slipped to about 38. 5 gallons.
Around the turn of the century, per capital soft drink consumption regu-
larly exceeded 50 gallons. BMC expects bottled water to reach that level
by the middle of the next decade.
Single-serve bottles have become the most popular option, driving
overall growth of the category and accounting for most its volume. In
2016, the single-serve segment enlarged by more than 9 percent to reach
8. 6 billion gallons. Yet all other segments, including larger, multi-serving
bottles as well as home and office delivery, sparkling water and imports,
also registered growth in 2016.