best by food beverage

Food and beverage manufacturers are often faced with figuring out what to do with product that is near its “sell by,” “use by,” or “best by” date. These dates prevent them from being able to sell through traditional customer channels and they must find new ways to salvage not only the product but the potential revenue.

It may come as a surprise, but The Food and Drug Administration actually approves of the consumption of outdated food and beverages. The government agency says that expiration dates are simply an indication of optimum quality as deemed by the manufacturer and are more like guidelines between the supplier and the grocer, not indicative of the product safety.

“Foods can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly,” says Dr. Ted Labuza, professor of food science at the University of Minnesota (Source: Forbes).

Zipline Logistics regularly helps customers with shipping their near-expired goods. So, we wanted to pass along our knowledge, in case you are looking for a new alternative.

To be clear – these tips are not for product that has been contaminated or spoiled, but for product that has dented packaging or is too close to its expiration date to sell through traditional channels. Food safety is extremely important. Product that has fallen out of safe temperature range, been exposed to contaminants, or is in any other way unsafe, should be destroyed. 

Sell to Grocery Outlets

Grocery outlets are supermarkets that specialize in selling items that traditional grocery chains don’t want to sell – such as dented cans, overstocks, or items near the expiration date. Discount grocers buy these products for pennies on the dollar, reselling to consumers at low prices.

Sell to Snack Box Companies

Curated snack boxes and subscription services send out product to consumers and offices on a monthly basis. The idea is for products to be consumed before the next shipment comes. Therefore, expiration dates are often less restrictive and can be reasonably near the ship date.

Sell to Frozen Manufacturers

Food remains safe to eat when it is properly stored and frozen, so, many ingredient suppliers sell their near-expired product to frozen food manufacturers. Ingredients are incorporated before the use-by or expiration dates then frozen to lock in freshness.

Use for Promotions and Sampling

Grocery stores often use produce that’s near spoilage for their prepared food stations. The product is still safe and delicious when fully cooked. Brands can leverage this practice, too. Do you have any upcoming tradeshows, sponsored events, or sampling opportunities? Bringing near-expired food and beverage to hand out to guests is an acceptable way to use up product. Food and beverages are consumed immediately, so there are no safety concerns.

Donate Product to Military or Local Shelters/Pantries

Some brands opt to donate product rather than to sell at a discounted price. Food banks and other charity organizations happily accept packaged foods near expiration.

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