Missed expiration dates have long been used to verify a product’s freshness; however, very few consumers know how to accurately interpret them. As a rule of thumb, products within a stipulated date are seen as “safe to eat”, which explains why more than half of customers throw away foods past the expiration date…even if it is safe to eat. This practice has cost companies incalculable losses stemming from:

  • Wasted food
  • Wasted packaging
  • Wasted consumer income
  • Wasted labor

While the FDA is currently trying to standardize expiration date labels for suppliers, studies show that around 48% of consumers still struggle to understand expiration labels. Lack of understanding and clarity only adds to the $750 billion loss affecting the food industry yearly. As food distributors look to drive down costs and food waste, experts recommend taking time to enhance product labeling and data capture to protect product quality.

Target Delays with Automation

Every second of idle time is a second running against the expiration date. However, faster processing speeds may leave room for handling errors. Therefore, when increasing order throughput, consider integrating:

  • Enterprise labels made for easy legibility – Labels are your product’s first line of defense against improper handling since they hold all the vital information (storage temperature, manufacturing date, shipping address, etc.) for seamless product movement. High quality labels protect crisp barcodes on even the most problematic labels for more successful first-time scans and faster processing.
  • Digitized inventory reporting – Improper inventory visibility contributes to overstocking and surprise stockouts. Consequently, suppliers and retailers alike are adopting digitized inventory management solutions leveraging hands free devices like Zebra’s WT6300 to capture and share inventory information throughout the organization.
  • Real-time expiration date management – Lastly, by monitoring the expiration dates of your products as they move through your facility operators can minimize their losses from expired products. Use software that will scan expiration dates at receiving, stocking, and picking. Effective WMS software can assure proper inventory rotation and send alerts about inventory that is nearing it expiration date.

There is no place for compromise when it comes to food safety. Close understanding gaps when you assess your current workflows with ProCat and establish better product identification for less waste beyond the distribution process.

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