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Major companies lend their voices to call for standardised labelling

Posted: 20 September 2017 | | No comments yet

Kellogg, Walmart and Tesco representatives joined forces in New York to extol the virtues of an international labelling system. 

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CLEAR SIGNALS: Consumer confusion is causing waste

For many customers, stamps found on everyday consumables such as ‘sell by’, ‘use by’, ‘display until’ and ‘best before’ are synonymous.

And this confusion means waste. Lots of it.

Today (September 20) the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) joined forces with Champions 12.3 to call for the standardisation of food date labels worldwide by 2020.

They made the announcement at the Champions 12.3 event at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, during Climate Week and the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

They said that retailers and food producers should take three steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste:

  • Only one label at a time.
  • Choice of two labels: one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. use by) and one for non-perishables (e.g. best if used by).
  • Consumer education to better understand what these labels actually mean.

Companies are encouraged to partner up with nonprofit organisations to arrange this education. 

The CGF is a network of 400 of the biggest consumer goods companies across 70 countries. 

Its Managing Director, Peter Freedman, said: “Now more than ever is the time for business to play a leading role in tackling food waste. This is an issue that can only truly be tackled by collaboration across the value chain. Through our global membership, the CGF is committed to playing a leadership role. We believe simplified and consistent date labelling will help us get one step closer to meeting our resolution to halve food waste by 2025 while also helping reduce confusion for consumers.”

The CGF Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Call to Action to simplify date labels along with representatives from companies like Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup, Bimbo, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Carrefour and Unilever.

“Four years ago, Tesco was one of the first retailers to roll out single date coding across our fresh food and meat produce. All the evidence from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and our own Tesco research has shown that streamlining date codes helps customers waste less food and it also reduces waste in our own operations. That’s why it’s so important we extend this practice to more companies in every country. Streamlining date labels worldwide by 2020 could be game-changing in the fight against global food waste”, said Dave Lewis, Group Chief Executive of Tesco and Chair of Champions 12.3.

Maria Fernanda Mejia, Sr. Vice President of the Kellogg Company and President of Kellogg Latin America, said: “Kellogg Company is working to reduce food loss and waste along the production and supply chains, and we want to encourage consumers to be part of the solution too. As a global food company, we work to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and protect the planet

“Simplifying food date labels is an important step forward in preventing food waste, and will help end the confusion related to ‘sell by’ dates. Kellogg is an enthusiastic supporter of improved and harmonised food labelling standards to help educate and empower consumers to prevent food waste, save their families money, and conserve resources to protect our planet”

An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food worldwide is lost or wasted each year. The average UK household with children spends £700 a year on food that’s thrown away – in the United States, that figure is $1,500. Standardising food date labels is a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of edible food thrown out by households, saving them money and reducing their environmental footprint. Food loss and waste is a major contributor to climate change, emitting 8 percent of annual greenhouse gases.

Champions 12.3

Champions 12.3 is a ‘coalition’ of governments, businesses, international groups and research institutions dedicated to delivering on a sustainable development manifesto.

At the Rockefeller Foundation, they launched a report on the progress they had made towards halving food waste and reducing food loss by 2030.

Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organisations for Food and Agriculture said: “The Sustainable Development Goals have given us a historic opportunity and we must rise to the challenge.

“Of all the SDGs, Target 12.3 is the only one to my knowledge that is being advocated by a coalition like Champions 12.3 with leaders from every sector mobilising action to achieve success. We stand a great chance, but a lot of work remains.”

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