Best before dating on foods drives consumer choices, says a new study from the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University and Angus Reid Institute which conducted a survey.
Twenty-seven per cent said they would support scrapping the dating requirement, but 32 per cent said they strongly support keeping the labeling. Another 30 per cent said they want the labeling kept.
Consumers are influenced by date labelling, the report says, noting that 25 per cent of the population relies on "best before" dates as an indicator of food safety.
But that may be contributing to food waste which is greater in Canada than most countries.
Martin Gooch of the Value Chain Management Institute said stamped products with the date it was manufactured or packaged could be an effective solution to food waste.
"That enables manufacturers, retailers, businesses along the chain to manage inventory, float product through — first in, first out — using products that need to be used, selling products that need to be sold."
But that doesn't drive consumer behaviour, he said. In fact, some parts of the food industry, and other industries which use similar date labelling, consciously profit from "best before" dates, he said.
"One of the things we need to do is better communicate what 'best before' dates mean,” Gooch said.
Best Before dating results in bargains for shoppers who watch for specials, such as Loblaws’ "enjoy-tonight" labeling on products nearing Best Before expiry.