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Xpire.org: Food Expiration Dates 2.0 (Update:Label Design- 10/15/2016)

Xpire.org - Our idea involves using dual expiration dates (with soft/buffer date) coupled with a donation mechanism to reduce food waste.

Photo of An Old Friend

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The Problem:

Expired products represents a major source of food waste. I look at several possible ways that expiration dates can be redesigned to solve this problem.

My primary idea involves using two dates, a 'soft, best-before date and a 'hard', consume-by (also called donate-by date), which would enable customers in making informed decisions thereby reducing waste. The soft date date is termed as buffer date.

These dates should be accessible and visible to both retailers and end consumers. My plan would also involve developing an ecosystem that allows consumers and retail stores to donate the food products once the soft date is crossed.

I believe that a successful implementation involving careful user-centered design, incorporating retail data, studying consumer behaviour, and understanding various stakeholder incentives, would be novel, scalable and successful in reducing food waste.

Key Insight:

Expiration dates have fuzzy intent. In some cases expiration dates represent a "best-before" date, where the food is safe for consumption beyond the particular date, but may not provide the ideal level of taste or flavor. In other cases, expiration dates represent a "use-by" or "consume-by" date, where the food is possibly unfit for consumption beyond the specified date. By resolving this ambiguity, for instance by providing dual dates, both a soft date and a hard date, we can reduce wastage.

Concepts:

  1. Dual expiration dates: At the first, and simplest form of implementation, we would have dual dates on every perishable food product - a soft, "best-before" date and a hard "use-buy" date. These dates may be several days, or even several months apart, depending on the food category. This itself can lead to significant reduction in waste (see below why).
  2. Donation: Beyond this, we can consider developing a ecosystem to enable consumers to donate products beyond the soft date.
  3. Technology: Third, we propose using technology to improve the above models - for instance,  to help consumers identify soon to be expired products or share products with others.


How would this reduce the problem of food waste?

  1. The soft date acts as a trigger for customers to take action - either to consume or donate the food product. 
  2. With dual dates, shoppers wouldn't hesitate picking up products close to the soft expiry date at stores.
  3. Consumers would feel comfortable consuming products close to the soft-expiry date.
  4. Retailers do not have to scramble to sell their products just before the expiration date. The soft date would allow them to keep it on the shelves for a longer time, as keeping it beyond the date, they would not fall foul of regulatory norms (if applicable)
  5. Food products beyond the soft date would not have to thrown away, but can be sold lower price, hence reducing waste, and possibly improving revenues for the retailer
  6. Food products beyond the soft-date can be donated (or sold/bartered online), both by the consumer and retailer.


Challenges and Considerations:

  1. This will require support from food manufacturers who may be reluctant to make changes to their current system. What is in it for them? 
  2. How does this alter consumer purchase behaviour? Are consumers willing to buy more products close to expiry dates?
  3. How does this affect the demand structure of the product. Will consumers wait for the soft-expiry date to pick up the product, expecting a drop in prices?
  4. How effective would be legislation in implementing this idea?
  5. How can this model be incorporated with other food-waste saving ideas (like food sharing apps)?
  6. How to build awareness of this concept? What role does branding play in the success of this initiative?
  7. What are the key components of the ecosystem in retail stores and cities needed for this idea to succeed?
  8. One challenge we foresee is customers/store-keepers not detecting the soft-date at the right time. How can we solve this? How can we design the dates so that the information is more accessible to consumers and store employees.


Data and Research

  1. What fraction of food waste is because of expired products? It would be useful to have information both at household and at store-level?
  2. What are the product category differences in the waste generated. For instance, how is food-waste for bread different from canned tuna? 
  3. What do we know about the nature of spoilage for different food categories? For instance, is there a concurrent decline in taste along with fitness for consumption?
  4. What are the relevant shopper insights with regard to expiration dates? Do consumers pay attention to these dates when making purchased? How does this factor into the purchase decision. How is this different for different categories of products?
  5. Can  we employ field/lab experiments to generate useful insights on consumer behaviour, potential waste-reduction, and impact on product category demand.


Some related ideas:

  1. Introduce dynamic pricing for highly perishable products like bread. This can be incorporated on a dynamic price-sticker or a freshness indicator. For instance if a loaf of bread has a shelf life of seven days, the pricing can be ($4.00-X*0.25) - every day, the price reduces by 25 cents. This could solve a common problem where newer products like bread, milk are placed in stores, and items of the same product with older dates are present in the same rack. The consumer never picks up the older date, even if it has not crossed the expiration date. 
  2. App (or feature in an existing app), which allows consumers (or stores) to scan food products while they purchase (or stack) it, which stores information on hard and soft dates. This app would alert consumers/store-keepers as the soft-date approaches. This information can be shared with others on the app.
  3. Introducing time-dependant stickers on products that makes consumers or retail stores easily aware about when the soft date is crossed (Here's a patent that describes a similar idea)
  4. "Shop and Drop" donation boxes in retail stores: Partner stores will have special locations with donation containers, where consumers can either pick-up products at a low cost or donate it immediately after purchase. For instance, if there is a bag of crisps that's crossed the soft date, a shopper can can buy it, for her consumption or donate it immediately after purchase at a donation bin. (See Suspended Coffee for a similar idea)
  5. App - Concept: We can build a software app that would help consumers better use the information available on expiration dates to incorporate waste-reduction in daily cooking. For instance, the consumer would scan expiration date information on purchase of the product. The app would then provide recipes for dishes that consumers can prepare using the items available in their pantry. The app would incorporate machine learning to dynamically provide recipes options that reduce waste by incorporating information on the product expiration. (Update: See more on this idea here)


References:

  1. A supermarket in Denmark that sells only expired food.
  2. Expired - A documentary on expiration dates and food waste.
  3. Food freshness indicator patent
  4. The Dating Game
  5. Trash It or Eat it? - health.clevelandclinic.org
  6. Can you eat foods after their best-by dates? KGW.com
  7. H.R.5298 - Food Date Labeling Act of 2016
  8. Fixing Expiration Dates Won’t Solve Food Waste
  9. Michael Tsiros, Carrie M. Heilman (2005) The Effect of Expiration Dates and Perceived Risk on Purchasing Behavior in Grocery Store Perishable Categories. Journal of Marketing: April 2005, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 114-129.
  10. Faruk Anıl Konuk. (2015) The effects of price consciousness and sale proneness on purchase intention towards expiration date-based priced perishable foods. British Food Journal 117:2, 793-804.
  11. Aristeidis Theotokis, Katerina Pramatari and Michael Tsiros. (2012) Effects of Expiration Date-Based Pricing on Brand Image Perceptions. Journal of Retailing 88:1, 72-87.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A behavioural experiment to understand how consumer's propensity to buy or consume a food product with the modified expiration dates.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I am looking for collaborators and team members to develop and implement this idea.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a researcher at UNC Chapel Hill interested in creativity, design and innovation.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

Most "expired" food are actually good for consumption, at least for a few days beyond the date indicated on the product. But many of us would cringe at the thought of consuming or even donating such "expired food". What if there was a soft or buffer date, that triggered us to consume or donate the food before it actually expired. Think of it as recharge packs for expiration dates!

How is your idea unique to the space?

As far as we can tell, the idea of using dual dates (or buffer dates) to solve the expiration date problem is unique. This idea is also highly scalable, if this concept is shown to be successful in reducing waste in a small retail setting, then it can easily be replicated on a very large scale with in significant impact on waste reduction. As an academic researcher, my expertise would be in designing the concept, and field experiments, followed by the evaluation of the implementation.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

Firstly, I am looking to build a team that can design and prototype this concept in a simple retail setting. This requires buy in from a retailer or manufacturer who is willing to try it out. This study/experiment should how this has an impact on consumer behavior, waste reduction, and donation. This will help us to redesign and align incentives. If this is shown to be successful, we hope we can convince cities, manufacturers and retailers to implement this is a more elaborate way.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

At the field experiment stage we would look at: 1) Do consumes purchase more products closer to expiry dates with dual/buffer dates? 2) How does does dual dates affect average profitability of SKUs at stores? 3) How does dual/buffer dates lead to donation?

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

The first step is to pilot this project in a retail store as a field experiment. This would help us understand the implication of the dual/buffer date system on retail store profitability, consumer purchase behavior, propensity to donate. It's important to design the system so that retailer margins and sales are not affected in a significant way, since without the buy in of retailers and manufactures this idea is bound to fail.

123 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Hi all, 
It turned out that we didn't get selected as the winning ideas. But it was still very nice to share thoughts and work with you all to build on this idea. Thank you for all your input and I look forward to future opportunities to work with you. 

Elaine

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

I have an idea about this issue, my idea is changing products that will come close to expired date that's owned by consumer to new products but the consumer should pay extra money such as 25% to change it, by this way the consumer can save the money and the shopping centre can earn extra by changing these products from humanity products to animal products such as meat, beef...etc.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

I think this is a brilliant idea. Customers could food close to expiration in exchange for other food...I'm not sure retailers would be happy to do this...But what about a specialized store that buys, sells and barters products close to the soft expiry dat?

Here's my version of your idea...what if we have a shop where people can sell and buy products that are close to expiry... I might have 10 cans of tuna which is close to the "soft date", I couldn't possibly consume everything in next few days..So I end up throwing it away...Alternatively,  I could take it to the eXpire store, and get other stuff close to to expiry (but not expired) that I can use immediately. What do you think Zubin Desai Niki Ramchandani ?

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

its good idea
but if you create specialized store for this, you should create more than branches
my opinion is create as agreements with other stores like as Aldi, coles...etc.
To cooperate with this idea I think one of open innovation is coupled innovation that's mean several stores  are going to participate in this initiative because this type of initiative reflects the corporate social responsibility by reducing waste for environmental issue and can reduce the cost for customer that related to social dimension

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

I agree with you...If the stores can tie up with multiple large retailers, it would be a win-win. The retailers could remove products close to expiry systemically, without having to throw them away or give drastic discounts.  Apart from the social dimension, they might even make money out of this!

Tojin

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

I have a comment but its not related to expired date, I have a question why some people purchase a lot of products and they know that cannot have a consumption in short periode
I think we should change our behaviours toward purchasing processes because we can find stores everywhere in any time, why are we purchase over need products?, we should have a solution for this problem in the beginning
i think an important point
what do you think?

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen  & Mohammed Asfour ,

These are interesting ideas! A few questions - when you say humanity products to animal products, what do you mean? Using human food for animal feed? Or something else? Tojin, being able to swap your food close to expiry to other types of food is a good idea. What if the reason you can't consume your food is because you are going on vacation or moving?  Perhaps we should include a donation component in addition to some incentive for making the trip to donate? It could be points they can redeem for next time or something? Also, how do you address the issue of equity- donating 10 cans of equity may be less valuable than 1 pound of beef? What are the bartering exchange rates? Also, what do you do with food that is left "un-bartered" in the end? I think this is a very interesting idea- but those are just some thoughts to think through.

I'm not sure where we ended up with the expiry date ideas. From the informative conversation with Yannik Walther  & Ezgi Sengun , it seems like in practice, we have only seen 1 instructive label being used.  Is that correct?  So our options include 1) We can go this route, and propose eliminating the misleading "best buy" for "use by."  I wouldn't recommend having a "donate by"here because it may confuse people about why we would want it donated by a date, and may confuse the receiver of donations on the quality of the product. 2) We can use 2 clear labels like "peak  taste by " and "must use by". For both ideas, we can also add educational short messages (through symbols or something) that indicates, you can freeze this, or keep it in a certain way and increase shelf life. Do you guys have more options we should include?

I do, however, wonder if there was a good way to encourage donations through this.

What do you guys think?

Thanks,

Niki

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

hello NiKi
I mean when some products are getting expired date the human cant eat it but the animal like dogs or cats can eat it by repackaging or remanufacturing.
for example: meat, tuna, beef...etc. 

Photo of Ezgi Sengun
Team

Hi Niki Ramchandani I like the idea of eliminating "Best by" and replacing it by "use by", you could then have a second label to indicate the "must use by" date. This would be much more informative and useful. 
Having labels with informative information regarding storage to increase shelf life is definitely a great idea, I think most products actually have this on the labels i.e. Store out of direct sunlight. 

Just a thought, what about labels or information for products that have been opened then stored in the fridge or cupboard? 

Thanks, 

Ezgi 

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

hi Ezgi, do you mean that the label regarding to used by 3 days after opening such as milk, juice?

Photo of Ezgi Sengun
Team

Hi @Mohammed Asfour, yes similar to milk and juice or open canned food for instance that once opened you would store in the fridge. Obviously, the shelf life would change, how would you account for that? 

thanks 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Team 

Here's a user map for the project developed by Niki Ramchandani . 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8D7GoEB4uu5bm15d3BUU0pwRnM/view
Take a look and tell us what you think..

Tojin

Photo of Dimitri
Team

HI Tojin,

I think relying only on providing information on where/how to donate would not suffice. This is mainly because products need to be physically transported by the consumers to these donation centres/hubs, which is time consuming and inconvenient especially if the consumers are only about to donate in small quantity. Therefore in my opinion, most of the consumers would still throw away their food instead of donating it. To address this issue, I think the best way to attract consumers to donate their excess food is by providing them with incentives such as store credits, additional discounts for future purchases etc. Thus, both parties will hopefully reap the benefits from this idea. Good luck!

Best Regards,

Dimitri S.

Photo of Famey Williams
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen I think the user map looks great and explains the concept is a way that is easy to digest. I have not been able to participate actively due to demands in my life, my apologies. However, it looks as though through the hard work of yourself and the team, the concept has involved wonderfully.

Thanks for adding me to the team, it has been an informing introduction to OpenIDEO and will buoy my future participation on the platform when demands on my energy reduce. 

 

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

That's great Ellen Oh  & Yilin Liu !

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

Hi team,

Based on awesome label from Yilin Liu , I created two photos with rendering of what it would be like. 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/in2qzgaq8to0znb/AAD7goGpO5MT0ES6FMSX1jWxa?dl=0

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Ellen Oh ...This looks brilliant!....I've added the images to the post

Tojin

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

Thank you. I realized sprout one photo is little blurry and just uploaded better resolution photo to dropbox file. I think photos of "what would be like" always works well to communicate with idea. I was also thinking to if we have different colors by different type of food but I wonder that would be worth it or more confusing.  

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Hey Ellen Oh , it looks REALLY good! I was thinking of applying different colors as well and I ended up with using only one color because I feel like the type of food should be pretty self-evident by just looking at it. :p

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

I agree. Different colors could potentially confuse consumers :)

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Yilin Liu ,

I completely agree and think that we need to put some instructions on how to increase shelf life (e.g. storage conditions)on the label without making it too text heavy. This is something that was discussed early on as well. Tojin Eapen  what do you think?

Thanks,

Niki

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Hi Niki Ramchandani  and Team ,
I've created a new version of label based on the existing ones and Mitch's feedback. Click here to see the label: http://liumomo610.com/foodlabel_v1.jpg  Let me know if you have any feedback or questions. Thanks!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Yilin Liu Team .. I think your version of the label is brilliant!  I really like the idea of adding a recommended temperature..I have added the image to our page. 
Tojin

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Tojin Eapen  Thanks! I'm glad that you like it. I can do further edits before the deadline, just let me know if there's anything you want to add or change.

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

I love the new version of Label! Very clear  and easy to understand! 

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

Hi Tojin,
I really excited about the new logo and progress you did during the last week. Greate news! The refinement deadline postponed. Do you want me to help you for visual design of your project? Please let me know. 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Mehrafza Mirzazad ... Thanks a lot again! Really grateful for your support.  

Niki Ramchandani & Zubin Desai planning to make a "user map" this weekend for the project, I was wondering if it would be possible for provide some advice/help with that if its convenient for you..

If we make it through to the final round, we'll definitely need your help with the visual design and further refinement of the plan.

Tojin

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

I think you need to change your point of view! Your idea is new and fresh but you hide it as the old fashioned expired date! So why don't you show it boldly! My suggestion would be to change the place of your idea on the product and hang it or type it somewhere which the user has more interact with it such as the handle on the milk bottle!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Mehrafza Mirzazad 

I think you make a valid point...But, don't you think that a more novel design might hamper adoption by retailers/manufacturers?

For me the core idea is very simple - a buffer date which can enable people to make wiser choices. I think we can build several great designs around this core concept...But at this point I would like to keep it simple...I believe even a very simple implementation can result in significant reduction in food waste.

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

Definitely, the simplicity of your idea is really powerful. When I said "boldly", I meant more confidence! I checked most of the products in my kitchen and the expiration date is look like hid by company consciously! It is really difficult to find them and difficult to read them. Now imagine how would be difficult for the senior citizens.
There is a great book related with that: Patricia Moore's Disguised. 

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

hello buddy....
how can I engage in your idea???

Photo of mitch Lee
Team

Hi Yilin Liu 
It'd be cool if you could create symbols that bode closer to a) use-by-date and b) donate by date. In addition, it would be great if you could show the relationship between the two elements too - i'm referring to extending the triangle and heart symbols. 

To team, 
Just to clarify, is the target audience consumers who want to give half eaten or unopened packaged food to a store for free/fee? Where that product is then sold? Where do the proceeds go? Or is the target audience, supermarkets themselves? And the proposition is to create a secondary market for food formats such as perishables? 

I'm am just trying to ascertain is this a franchise model (in that it builds stores that sell donated product), or is it a trademark standard business that ethically conscious brands can buy into? Either way, there are two assumptions that need to be better understood. First,  are supermarkets likely to view this IDEO  idea in a favourable light i.e., trying to take market share? Second, if this relies on logistics, what are the costs associated to drop off points or delivery services? It should be noted that any logistics will rely first on the the offering being adopted. Lastly, if you were to name a progressive state, town, city to test the offering where would you like to do it? 

I think it's a great idea, but there's still a lot of work to do around understanding what market this idea can slot into with the most ease. What current offering (product or service) would see the most value in this idea? Who needs this offering the most? What is the biggest annoyance for people in this context? Is that consumers don't currently have a way of optimising efficiency of this utility? 

Could someone possibly put this into a business model canvas to build and feed off?

Best regards,
Mitch

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

Hi, Mitch!
I think half eaten products are impossible to share/donate. I think there already enough hurdles to take from a food safety perspective that's why I believe that we have to focus on closed products. I think it can even be difficult to donate food which has to be kept cold at all time.
I think your questions are all excellent and I think our group should speak about that. However, it's just a little bit arduous to do that by writing. So I would suggest that our group tries to hold a meeting over TeamViewer or Skype so that we can elaborate a little bit before we do the business model canvas.

Best regards,

Yannik

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Hi all @Team  , sorry for the late update. According to the report I mentioned earlier (http://blogs.harvard.edu/foodpolicyinitiative/files/2013/09/dating-game-report.pdf), the confusing expiration dates contribute a lot to food waste. It's great to see that we are moving forward by adding the critical date and buffer date. To bring it further, I suggest that we consider a universal label that can be applied to all different types (vegetables, frozen food, fresh meat etc.) of food to provide consumers with the consistent knowledge of expiration dates.  For example, a label with critical/hard dates and buffer dates for three different storage conditions: room temp (75F) , fridge (40F), and freezer(0F). For the ones that are not applicable (e.g. frozen food can't simply be stored in room temperature), it can be simply omitted so it also provides consumers the knowledge of suggested storage temp..  In this way, the same label can be use for all kinds of food and it reinforces the knowledge about expiration dates. 

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

BTW I would love to help with the visualization of the idea. Just let me know if I can help. :)

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Tojin! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 09/28" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Tojin, we updated the link to the Refinement Toolkit. Please use this new link instead: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/bda1f109-0466-4f8e-9699-1359e406df56.pdf

Photo of Kerrin McLaughlin
Team

I think the simple act of putting "donate by" on the packaging will encourage people to be more mindful and consider donating more often, simple yet effective!

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi all,

I have two quick questions we may want to think through:

1) "Best-buy" is a common label. While there is value in using terms that are wide-spread, will people misinterpret this term to mean, it's not of "best" quality and should not be eaten? Are there other terms that we can use? Or should this be fixed through the education campaign we discussed?

2) I love the idea of "donate buy." It puts the idea of donation right in a person's face, encouraging them to donate. But how to the receivers of the donation know when to use it by? Will there by a third label of "use by?"

Thanks,

Niki

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Niki Ramchandani Team Zubin Desai 
I agree! We should think about designing the label terms so that it is effective, and not misinterpreted...

Also, how do we display the dates. The way expiry dates are displayed today makes its hard to read and access. If the donate buy is printed in the same old way, I'm not sure if it's going to make much of a difference.

How do we design the display of dates on the package?...food for thought going forward! This could be the most important aspect of our design....Please share your thoughts on this...

Tojin

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

Hi Tojin,
I think the design is crucial and to be frank, the only chance to make this concept really work. Because all the suggestions which were made are already implemented in parts of the world. Unfortunately, I think it hasn't had a big impact yet. Maybe the only way how we can make this to work is through a better design because I think the design is still poorly implemented.

Yannik

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

I agree Yannik Walther ... However, I haven't come across the use of dual dates (or buffer date) elsewhere, but I may be wrong..also using it as a mechanism for donation...Have you come across it in Europe somewhere Yannik? Anybody else in the Team seen dual/buffer expiration dates elsewhere? If so we can learn from it in our design...

Tojin

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

In Switzerland, we just have two dates (has to be sold until/the expiration date) but I have seen two different dates like you describe it in Australia. I have never used such a donation platform, but they exist in Switzerland and in Germany where people donate food to others. There is another organization in Switzerland which works as an intermediary between grocery stores and people with low income. Grocery stores donate their food which they can not sell anymore, and this food gets collected by this organization and redistributed. My point was just that all those solutions are already there but I got the impression that there is no platform or system which combines all the suggestions in one single system. 

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen , Zubin Desai , @Yannik Walther, and team,


I think four main themes are resonating through the comments:

1) We need clear and effective date labels

2) The design/display of the labels should be accessible (easy to read)

3) There needs to be an education campaign on what the label means

4) (Optional as it’s not completely related) There should be an education campaign on how to keep food fresh (e.g. boards with clear concise lessons on how to increase shelf life)


I think at this stage, it is possible to prototype 3-4 designs with varying label wordings and test them out on people we know for clarity and questions on how the labels may affect consumption and purchasing behavior, we can then find the strongest labels and designs to put forward. For the prototype, it would be good to only use it on one product (e.g. varying labels and designs on bread only.) If all team members could test this out on at least 5 people, we would have a sample size of 65.


Incorporating point 4 in the design: I don’t know if this is an overload, or would be text heavy, but if the educational lessons could be on the product itself, that could also help to lower waste levels. (E.g. “You can increase shelf life of this product by freezing it!”)
Some things that we should be cognizant in general is that some states have regulations on food labeling.


Team- do you think prototyping at this stage would be fruitful? (Feel freeto disagree!) Thanks,


Niki

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Team 
As @Niki Ramchandani mentioned, if you have interesting designs that we could possibly prototype, please share them, and we can upload it to this page...

Also, if you are interested in collaborating further with this project, with the design, or implementation, do take a look at the toolkit and let me know if you would like to help with any of the stages including user journeys and prototyping...

I hope that this project emerge into a fully collaborative effort. I don't think I can take this further on my own, so any help in refining, experimenting or prototyping is welcome. Also, the credits for any success will be fully shared with the team, especially the key contributors!

Tojin

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

Hi Tojion!
I found a link where the Australien system is described.
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/dates/Pages/default.aspx

Yannik

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi @Yannik Wather... Thanks a lot for sharing this link.... I may be mistaken, but in the link, it seems that firms have the option to choose one of the dates... I'm curious if you have seen an instance where two dates or more dates (in particular, a buffer date) has been used somewhere in Australia....

Tojin

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

Hi Tojin,

I am pretty sure that I have seen it before. But I'll go and check this today since I am currently living in Sydney. 

Yannik

Photo of Ezgi Sengun
Team

Hi @Tojin Eapen, just to add to Yannik Walther in Australia I believe only one date is used i.e. either "use by" or "best before". If the product is marked as "use by" this is not to be sold after that date due to health concerns, however this changes for products marked by "best before".  The only other difference is when it comes to bread.. they use the terminology "baked date" or "baked for". 

The idea of "shop and donate" is great, in Australia we have intermediaries whereby you can donate food to charity provided they are dated as "best before". As consumers we always tend to overspend and purchase more than required, households should be encouraged to regularly go through their pantries and donate any food they know they will not consume. This would not only benefit them but also benefit those who need it most. 

Thanks, 

Ezgi

Photo of Yannik Walther
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen and Ezgi Sengun 
Ezgi is right. I checked it yesterday in Woolworth and in Aldi. I think for dairy products they often use "use by" and for other products such as chocolate or coffee beans they rather use "best before". However, my roommate told me that he thinks that he has seen both dates on the same product but couldn't find such a product in the two grocery stores which I have checked.
Cheers,
Yannik

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks Ezgi Sengun  for sharing this info....

I wonder how one can figure out when a product is unsafe for consumption if it only has a "best before". I my opinion, all products with "best before" should also have a "use buy". 

Tojin

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks a lot Yannik Walther  for checking this out... If you find one with both the dates do let us know...We can check if we can obtain more information on that particular product like sales...In particular, if we can find out if they switched over from one date to two dates.. That will be something like a natural experiment. It can possibly give us some insight into consumers will react to our concept.

We really look forward to more of your thoughts!

Tojin

Photo of Ezgi Sengun
Team

No problems Tojin Eapen ! 

So do I! This is definitely where your project will come into great use.

 I guess with frozen and canned food as long as the packaging hasn't been damaged and the products are stored properly they could be fine for a few months? 
If would be great if the producers could indicate this as part as their labelling, because I for one get a little suspicious once the best before date has passed. 

At my previous job, we had soda stream flavours that had a best before date that had passed, so without thought I threw out the flavours. My then-manager told me so long as the packaging is fine, we could sell them up to six months at a discounted price. This was so bizarre to me at the time as I also thought to myself why would someone purchase an item that could've possibly expired. 

I too will keep an eye out if I see any products with two labels. 

Thanks! 

Photo of joel lopez
Team

really interesting project! not only to be more careful with the expiration dates but also to encourage people to make donations which is really important in order to atack hunger. good luck!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks a lot joel lopez . We look forward to hearing more from you...

Tojin

Photo of Mohammed Asfour
Team

hello everybody...
I have some issue about this topic
what is the benefits or best before???
I think that the producers should put the expired date from the beginning, so I had some issues regarding to best before,  as result this issue , I had  lost some products because in the beginning I don't know what is the different between best before and expired date. 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Yes I agree Mohammed Asfour . The dates right now are fairly ambiguous. This is the problem we are trying to solve. As you said, the  "best before" date is a meaningless date on its own.

Since I don't know till when I can safely consume it...I end up throwing it away. However if we had both a best before and use buy date, consumers could make more reasoned choice.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Niki Ramchandani Zubin Desai 

I would like to invite you to be project leads along with me to take ownership of the project going forward. This would involve working with the rest of the team to figure out how the concept can be refined, prototyped and experimented with. We can jointly decide how to take the project forward from here. Let me know what you think.

Tojin

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen & Zubin Desai  ,

Thank you for the opportunity! I would love to  work alongside you  in a leadership role! Since I don't have the ability to find the refinement questions, would you mind sharing them? (See slide 3 from the refinement toolkit.)  After seeing the questions, I think we can collaboratively work through the steps laid out in the toolkit. I would love to keep as much of the conversation on this platform so that everyone can contribute. But since we don't have the ability to share prototype images, for example, on this platform, you may also want to email me at nikita.ramchandani@gmail.com

Thanks again!

Niki

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen and Niki Ramchandani ,

Thanks for adding me as a lead! Would love to work with you both + the team to make this a reality.

Niki, I'll be in NYC From Oct 8-12, in case you'll be in the city at all. Would love to meet for coffee if you'll be around, but I know Princeton is pretty far from NYC. Maybe we can get on a call together to figure out next steps. My email is zubin.desai@gmail.com.

Just talked to someone in my coworking space about this idea and he is super excited as well. He's really connected in the tech world if at some point we think there is a tech/app integration.

Zubin

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Zubin Desai ,

It would be great to meet up! Coming to NYC is not a problem- but I may be out of town that weekend! I'll let you know shortly on my plans.  In the meanwhile, maybe a conference call may be fruitful?

Great lead on your tech friend! This will definitely come in handy in the future!

Thanks,

Niki

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Cool just shoot me an email when you know your plans! zubin.desai@gmail.com

Agree that we should get on a conference call to talk next steps.

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen  , Zubin Desai  and team,

Would you be available for a conference call this week to discuss having a rapid prototype and getting feedback from both retailers on dynamic pricing and consumers on different designs/wordings of labels? I'm free after 630pm EST all week.  You can email me to coordinate: nikita.ramchandani@gmail.com.

Thanks,

Niki

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Niki Ramchandani  Zubin Desai 

I am available on friday after 6:30pm for a conference. Let me know if it works...

One way I felt we could kick it off is to develop User Journeys (see Refinement Toolkit)... We could do this independently at first (or in convenient teams), so that we get multiple perspectives on the concept. They we can bring it together..

Before moving ahead with prototyping, I think it would be good to think through the idea from multiple perspectives - developing User journeys would be a great place to start. We can then integrate the ideas , and build prototypes...Maybe Mehrafza Mirzazad can help us with it..

Also I feel, we should start thinking of one specific product category which we can work on first. This idea may not work with all products equally well. Zubin Desai  mentioned how dates on "milks" were pretty ambiguous - we could probably start with this category! What do you think?

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Niki Ramchandani Tojin Eapen 
I'll be on a flight to NYC Friday afternoon so I can't join a call then. I'm free after 6:30 EST Tues - Thurs this week in case Tojin's plans are flexible. I agree that we should start with one niche category and take learnings from there. Milk is a great one. What's interesting is that organic milk seems to last over a month (based on the date) while regular milk only seems to last 10 days or so based on its date. Something we can look into if we focus on milk to start.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Zubin Desai Niki Ramchandani 

Great! I think we can start looking as milk as a category. Since it has a relatively short lifespan, our experiments will be less protracted..

I have some academic work in the evenings before Friday, so I won't be able to join for a call..

Here are my thoughts on what we can do next.
1) Make User journeys for the concept:  I think it would be good if we made more than one of these from different perspectives. I plan to work on one soon. 
2) Analyse the Milk category: We could start with a bunch of question that need to be answered
- what percentage of milk goes to waste?
- how long dies milk last beyond expiry?
- what happens to expired milk?
- how is expiration dated fixed?
We could bring this information together so that we can look at designing a prototype design after this.
Do share your thoughts on this...

Photo of Amber Matthews
Team

Instead of a label, can it be a signboard right next to the product shelf?

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Amber Matthews 
Thank you for your thoughts on our concept.
I think that one of the benefits of having the dates on the product itself is that they can potentially act as triggers (either for donation or consumption) even after purchase - say at households for example... A signboard, I feel would be limited in scope..

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen,
I can help your team on some visual designs to let the audience understand your idea easily! Please let me know.
Mehrafza

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Mehrafza Mirzazad . Thank you so much!!! I definitely, think that we'll need your help to get our idea across....

Tojin

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

As a note, in my coworking space today, I looked at the first 3 products I saw in the fridge: almond milk, regular milk, and Muscle Milk (protein body building drink that is not really milk at all). The language on all three were different!

Use by, sell by, best before. On the almond milk it says "Use within 7 days of opening." To me that is just a protection-mechanism from the manufacturer to protect themselves in case someone gets ill. Almond milk (especially the Almond Breeze brand which is loaded with emulsifiers and preservatives) definitely lasts more than 7 days after opening.

It is all very confusing to me, and I consider myself a discerning food shopper.

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Congratulations Tojin Eapen and team on being shortlisted!

I found this study that has some important learnings for this idea- The effect of expiration dates on the purchasing behavior for grocery store perishables. (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.199.9009&rep=rep1&type=pdf) I wanted to point out a few relevant conclusions and thoughts that arose after reading this. (Note: the study has a convenience sample of 300 people, so cannot be considered extremely rigorous. Still, the insights can be helpful.)


1) Education on when food is good until is important. An overwhelming majority of consumers believed that quality of perishables deteriorates over the shelf-life of the product, while retailers suggest that quality remains constant until the product passes the expiration date.
Relevant idea: a low cost education idea would be to have display boards within grocery stores that have clear and concise bullet point lessons on when certain foods go bad, what can be done to increase the life of products (e.g. freezing certain foods), etc.


2) The paper discusses a possible disincentive for stores to offer discounts for perishables that will expire soon. That is, it may encourage customers who check expiration dates to buy food at a discounted rate, but it won’t help them make money for customers who would have bought it anyway and not checked the expiration dates. At the same time, there is a risk of the potential bad will created among customers who bought food that quickly goes bad. The authors suggest that retailers are better off selling aging perishables at lower prices so that they cannot be blamed for selling food that spoils quickly at full price.


Relevant lesson: We should talk to some grocery stores on their current practices and willingness to discount food as they expire.


I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this and if it’s a good idea to incorporate any lessons/ideas into the team’s idea.


Thanks!


Niki

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Congrats Tojin Eapen  + team! Thanks Niki for this idea! I love the idea of incorporating dynamic pricing. The SF Giants (not grocery related, but still relevant) pioneered Dynamic Pricing to sell seats that would otherwise not have sold. It has been since implemented throughout MLB and other leagues as well. It would be great to interview someone there to see how they implemented this and whether we could use a similar technique for groceries. Their unsold seats are similar to wasted food in our case.

Questions that someone else may be able to answer: What happens to all the food that expires? Do most grocery stores sell or donate that to food banks? Do the manufacturers refund retailers for expired food? What happens to their profit margin when they sell this way? I imagine selling ALL inventory, even at reduced prices, is a net win for a grocery store. Part of getting internal buy-in from retailers will be to do some sort of financial analysis. I can help with this and have a contact from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business that used to work at Good Eggs. The Center for Responsible Business there might be able to connect us to grocery store administrators. I imagine there are some alums that work at Safeway's HQ in the Bay Area.

I do know that managing inventory is one of the biggest challenges grocery stores face today. They simply do not have enough warehouse space or manpower to bring in more items. e.g. If a new SKU gets added, a lower-performing SKU must be eliminated.

Looking forward to hearing more thoughts.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks Niki Ramchandani  for sharing the link.

Here's another paper also co-authored by Michael Tsiros that looks the role Expiration date based pricing has on brand perception. I think this is very important to consider, if we are to get a buy in from retailers and manufactuers

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Tsiros/publication/251479639_Effects_of_Expiration_Date-Based_Pricing_on_Brand_Image_Perceptions/links/02e7e5231bc1494d26000000.pdf

Theotokis, Aristeidis, Katerina Pramatari, and Michael Tsiros. "Effects of expiration date-based pricing on brand image perceptions." Journal of Retailing 88, no. 1 (2012): 72-87.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Zubin Desai Niki Ramchandani 

As Zubin mentioned, understanding where expired products end up is something we have to find out. I'm not sure that all retailers think that selling expired products for a discount would be profitable.

They might have several concerns - how does it affect their brand image? does it affect the type of consumers visit their stores? How does it alter the overall demand of the full-price product? I don't think they have answers to all this, but these concerns would prevent them from making changes to the way things are run today...

In my opinion, our best bet is to get a retail store to implement our concept in a few stores, for a few SKUs.  Then we can better understand the implications of any changes to the current system. Hopefully, a well designed solution will be profitable to retailer/manufactures and enable donations, and food waste reduction as well. This is what we should work towards....

Tojin

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Agreed. We can pick a few SKUs where food waste is the most prevalent. I imagine milk, bread, and eggs are near the top of that list. We can offer to test our prototype on a lower-performing SKU, so that we alleviate grocer fears of cannibalizing higher revenue sales. And if we can increase sales of that SKU, we will have a great proof point to present to other grocers.

Photo of Richard Balauro
Team

My two cents. donate or resell when expiration date is near to the a nearest store who repackage near expired products as SALE SALE SALE very low price. Please support my idea I need feedback support https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/ghef 

Thank you

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

Hah! I really like the idea of gaming with the phrases! Congrats being a finalist in this phase! 
How is this idea going to change the user's behaviour? How is this idea going to encourage the user to use the can "use-buy" day? 
Good luck! 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Mehrafza Mirzazad ... I agree that changing user behaviour is really important.  I hope that our team can do some field experiments to figure how the design can encourage both purchase and donation of dual label products. We'd be happy to hear more of your thoughts on this.

Tojin

Photo of Mehrafza Mirzazad
Team

One of the simple solutions which I applied in my house is creating a list which includes the name- number and expiration date's of the food inside my cabinet.  This list is hanging on my refrigerator and changed my behaviour and reduce the food waste amount in my home!
I think one of the problems is users forget what is in the cabinet, second the size of the expiration date is very small and very difficult to see.  
I really like the idea of scanning the barcode.
I hope I could help you about it!
Good luck.

Photo of Vanessa Shaw
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen congrats! I listened to a podcast recently that discussed the problem with expiration dates. It is an unregulated field and thus most of the dates listed are just made up, This might help with some of your research as you explore the experimentation phase. http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/best-enjoyed-by/  Best of luck!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Vanessa Shaw , Thank you for sharing the link. It helps us understand how pernicious the problem is.

There is a really important point here:
"And yet today, according to a report that Emily Broad-Leib co-authored, a majority of consumers believe that eating food past it’s sell-by or use-by date is a risk to their health. And as many as 90% of Americans throw out food based on date labels at least occasionally."

If we can correct this perception, I think we'll go a long way!

One thing we must try to understand, and Zubin Desai mentioned this in a previous comment, is whether the retailers or manufacturers have an incentive in advancing the dates.  Do they believe that doing so is more profitable? This is something we have to look into as well.

Tojin

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Congratulations on being one of the forty ideas in the refinement phase. I look forward to seeing how this idea develops. 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thank you @Kate Rushton , on behalf of the team.
Tojin

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

Hello. Team.  I'm Ellen Oh,  a member of Tojin's team. I ran into The New Yorker article today and it is visually fun and relevant article to idea. 

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/a-periodic-table-of-new-york-city-trash?mbid=social_facebook&mbid=social_facebook

I also have a question. This is my first time participating Open IDEO challenge and for refinement phase, do we suggest ideas in comment section? 

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Ellen Oh 
Thanks for sharing the link...

Yes, it would be great if you can share the ideas in the comment section. We can bring it all together in the end and put it in the main section at the end of the feedback stage.

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Hi Tojin Eapen , nice idea! I came across a report on food expiration dates published by harvard and NRDC when I was working on my idea. It's very insightful and it provides more evidence for making the case of redesigning food labels. Hope you find it useful. 
https://www.nrdc.org/issues/food-waste
And our idea didn't get selected to the second round, I would love to contribute to your idea. Check out our idea to see where am I coming from: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/cook-before-it-expires

Thanks! :)

Photo of Yilin Liu
Team

Sorry, this is the link for the exact report. http://blogs.harvard.edu/foodpolicyinitiative/files/2013/09/dating-game-report.pdf

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks Yilin Liu  I'd love to have you on the team to build this idea... Looking forward to more thoughts on this.

Tojin

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Yilin Liu 
Thank you so much for connecting. I really liked your concept, and I hope we can work together to design a solution that combines insights around food expiration. I really look forward to collaborating with you.

Tojin

Photo of Famey Williams
Team

Hello Tojin Eapen . Congratulations on making it to the refinement stage. I was moved to comment because of  my family experience with accessing expired foods from social services as child . I was always being amazed it tasted so good despite the best before being some months ago. I've carried this memory into adulthood and always have a hard time trying to convince others the food is still good and it should not be thrown away. I think your idea is fantastic. I think the 'donate by' option would useful as it encourages people to think about food waste. Consume by, or 'use by' as we often see here in Australia,  might not automatically create the thought to pass the food on to others before it spoils.  I think there is a great deal more that can be done in regards to public education of this issue and wondered whether in addition to the label change,  this could be linked to a partnership with leading food donation receivers who could assist with funding of a public awareness campaign linked to the 'donate by' label. 

Hope you find the comment useful, I'm on my second log in and you're my first participation in openIDEO, still learning the ropes.

Great work :)

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thank you Famey Williams . It's really encouraging to see your comment.

This is just a concept at this stage, and I am looking for people like you to help build up the idea. I have added you to our team, and I look forward to hearing more about your experience, and your thoughts - in particular about how we can design the donation system.

Tojin

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Tojin Eapen  I love this idea! Thank you for posting it here. One question that I have always had: Do confusing expiration dates exist purely because they cause consumers to throw out food earlier than they should - and then just buy more to replace it? As an example, why is there an expiration date on white vinegar? It doesn't ever go bad, according to numerous studies. Ketchup's best-by date just indicates when the flavor may start to change, though the actual shelf life is much longer.

Maybe there can be a push for more transparent descriptions. Instead of best-by date, we call it "Peak flavor before: XX/XX/XX". The nutrition labels are changing to show accurate serving sizes and FINALLY will be labeling Added Sugars, and the percent of suggested daily intake of sugar. e.g. a 20 oz bottle of Coke will no longer say it is 2/3 of a serving, it will say 1 serving since that is the more accurate use case. And the Added Sugar percentage is going to be astronomical. (I credit the film Fed Up for helping push a lot of these changes).

I am skeptical of the food lobby and wonder whether it is even in favor of more efficient consumption patterns. I'm working on a project called Citizen Coke (citizencoke.com), which is about the environmental impact of Coca-Cola. It's led me down rabbit holes that have made me seriously question the food lobby and Coke's case, the sugar lobby.

These companies don't push less consumption, though in Coke's defense, it has recently said they are in favor of Americans' now choosing to reduce their caloric content. What they are not saying is that while soda consumption here in the U.S. is down, it is skyrocketing in countries like China and India, as are the diabetes and obesity rates.

Very much would like to help however I can. I truly believe that reinventing our food production and consumption patterns is one of the most important (and achievable) ways to reverse, or at least slow down, the harm we're doing to the planet.

Secondary idea: What about a label (on the inside of a lid) that can tell when a food has actually spoiled by measuring changes in pH levels? Obviously would be an expensive proposition at first, but if produced at scale it could cost fractions of a penny, hopefully.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Wow! Thanks Zubin Desai for all these inputs. I'd love to have you on the team so that we can improve on the idea.

Tojin

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Thanks for adding me! I think this has the opportunity to greatly reduce food waste without expensive changes to the production process itself.

I wonder if people will trade up to more expensive product lines if they know that whatever they buy will last longer than they are used to. This could incentivize producers to get on board. For example, we can research whether people are more likely to trade up to Heinz brand ketchup instead of store brand if they know that they will not likely need to throw it out. This could also potentially encourage more bulk purchases - at say Costco - so they could be a potential partner to help spearhead this.

Photo of Niki Ramchandani
Team

Thanks for adding me to the team! This is a very exciting project! Changing the system of food labels would also benefit from a public campaign to drive in the point that food can be consumed until the "use by" date and there is no need to be overly cautious, which could lead to waste.

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

Yes this will be super important! An awareness campaign that is based on empathy and human-centric design is going to be critical to educate consumers that the Use By date is merely a suggestion. Another aspect/question to think about: Are food producers incentivized to be overly conservative with food expiration labeling in order to protect themselves in case someone happens to get sick? It's like anti-bacterial soap (Purell, etc.) that states that it is 99.9% effective. This is so they can protect themselves with that .1% safety net in case it doesn't work for some reason.

Photo of Gertrude
Team

Hi I like this idea and we could contact manufacturers to ask if they would add this to there labels for better transparency. Ideas: We can make different version labels for them to choose from; Or it can be a separate sticker that we supply to the stores/manufacturers for consumers to have a better visible display. It can be a blank sticker that they can add the information such as dates to later since each product would be different. What do you think?

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Gertrude 

Thank you so much for your feedback!


I agree that this is likely to be successful only if manufactures and retailers buy into this. How can we design the system so that they do? I think that's our main challenge.

The first is to consider if the retailers can somehow directly benefit from this. 


The biggest "carrot" for manufactures  to incorporating the dual system would be when  consumers actively seek out products that have dual expiration dates.

If consumers are convinced that buying dual label goods can lead to reduction in food waste, and consumers choose such products over non labelled good, then you can be sure that retailers  and manufacturers will quickly buy into this.

Also I feel this idea  should be part of an integrated rethink about the expiration dates. There are some really interesting ideas around his...App for food waste.. if we can bring these together that would leave a real impact.

Personally I don't think FDA/Government mandates are the best option. Mostly because such mandates take away ownership from the consumers and the retailers.

I look forward to hearing more from you.

Photo of Zubin Desai
Team

I would look into what was required to get the FDA nutrition labels changed to show accurate serving sizes and added sugars and percentage of suggested max intake. The sugar lobby fought these changes for decades but with enough consumer activism, we're starting to see changes. I think this is a great case study to see what it takes to get the FDA to actually make these changes. Though, it's such a long process that I wouldn't build FDA mandates into the actual design itself. I believe one of the reasons these labels are finally changing is because the health care and social costs of diabetes and obesity now exceed the contribution (GDP, employment, etc.) from sugary products.

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

FDA mandates might work, but as you said, it may not be the most efficient solution, and we should think how we can build it into the design itself.

Would dual-dated raise the collective 'consciousness' of the consumer, the way coffee certifications did (http://www.javalush.com/coffee-drinkers-save-planet-heres-definitive-guide-11-coffee-certifications/) if so, then retailers and manufactueres would realize that it makes business sense and incorporate it on the product .

I think that's the kind of design we should be working towards.

Photo of Gertrude
Team

I think a separate sticker with best before and donate buy, that we supply to the stores/manufacturers for consumers to have a better visible display. It can be blank by dates so they can add the information such as dates to later since each product would be different. What do you think? We can supply a first sample pack so they can try it out then order forms for them to order more? It can also go across the top of packages/cans or where it can be seen easily.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Yes,  this can be implemented either 1) by the manufacturer or 2) by the retailer.  Visibility is very important. Expiration dates, the way it's designed today is hard to access.

A small pilot project can help us understand how this will affect consumer choices.

Tojin

Photo of Gertrude
Team

Yes good idea

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

I think tackle on food expiration is smart idea to reduce waste early stage. When I went to Denmark, I've been to a restaurant that serves food made of edible expired food and it was very nice. I think your idea would be great advantage for food business. I also think it'll be great to connect with my idea as well.

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/fork-to-fossil

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks Ellen for sharing your thought!

Photo of Ellen Oh
Team

Thank you for inviting me to the team

Photo of Daniel Gutierrez
Team

I found your idea quite interesting and useful. After reading the comments below, I´m agree with Mitch about the colours. What about mention in the yellow phase: "Eat Now or donate"? so people can reflex  if they are going to really eat it or not and people will not feel pressure to donate; thus, the consumer will have 2 options with a responsible action.
Good luck with your project!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

 I think that's a great idea - the hard date can be termed as Consume/Donate date. Thanks Daniel!

Photo of Josephine Liang
Team

This is definitely an important approach to smarter shopping habits. I remember reading about how even just enlarging the expiration dates on Sainsbury's packaging has had such an impact.

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Thanks Josephine!

I found this article about what sainsbury does with expired food :http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/blog/2012/07/what-happens-with-out-of-date-food/

Photo of Prasanna Shrivastava
Team

I really like this idea. I would love to talk more about building the donation ecosystem for this idea (I had suggested a similar idea). Having a really good supply chain that encourages people to donate near expiry products and enables receivers to receive these goods for a low price would be critical for success

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi Prasanna,

I agree that building the donation ecosystem is key to the success of this idea.

Tojin

Photo of mitch Lee
Team

Hey Tojin,

Extending on your idea, have you thought about reframing how we visualise the expiry date on products? For example, you could re-contextualise expiration by using the likes of a traffic light. E.g., stickers go on food, and the stickers represent the shelf-life of the product - green=good, orange=close to expire, red=expired. Stickers could change states as the product goes through its life cycle.

A couple of observations you may want to consider further: (1) Frugal consumers will use the "Donate By" as a true indication of the products expiry date. In addition, your concept assumes the consumer has a moral obligation to donate/throw the product out once it meets the "donate by"; (2) the concept popularises inequality - i.e., "it's off, the poor people will still have it."

Recommendations: 
1. data on how big the issue is;
2. who are the key influencers in the value chain that you are targeting;
3. the logistics around how one would donate (locations, model);
4. consider a closed loop model that feeds expired products with a free return policy to the maker for an incentive?

Hope the project goes well!

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Team

Hey Mitch,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

The idea of a dynamic indication is a cool idea. In the inspiration phase, I linked a couple of technology patents which involve time-dependant indicators. Maybe we could look at something similar.

The heart of the challenge is making the dates easily accessible and easy to interpret. A dynamic indication could be a solution. But can this be done at a low cost? What do you think?

Tojin

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About the problems you mentioned:

1) Frugal consumers viewing the donate by date (the hard date) as a true indication, and consuming the product would be an excellent unintended consequence of the idea. Since our primary objective (waste reduction) is served well.

2) I understand your concern about inequality. However, it doesn't have to be poor people who pick up the soft-expired products. It could be frugal consumers, as you pointed out yourself. Also, donation is really secondary to the overall idea. The crux of the  idea is that with a disambiguated expiration dates, consumers will be able to make informed choices, and this will lead to  overall waste reduction.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to more thoughts on this.

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It would be great to understand the technology patents you are referring to. 

The thinking behind the traffic lights was from a personal problem: (a)  it's hard to make a mental note of a product's expiry date; and (b) it's also annoying having to check the expiry date against todays date, especially when I can't make out the date on the product. A colour may streamline that whole process for the likes of me. 

To be honest, I have no idea how easy it is to have a 'thing' change colour in accurate time intervals, haha. 

I should also tell you Tojin, I couldn't help but draft up a concept that appropriates your idea around time allocation, but with the focus on optimising my eating habits, by addressing the short shelf life of produce. Insight was how people (classic me) have every intention to eat the food that is about to go off but I'm continuously unaware of it going off. Would you mind if I pitched this once I develop it a little more?  

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Thanks for sharing...  Go ahead! I'd love to review your idea, and contribute if possible

There are several innovations, that enable users to track food spoilage, for instance see this: http://insigniatechnologies.co.uk/products.asp

I wonder if it's possible to solve this without resorting to too much technology, as this would drive up the cost of the products...

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Hi @mitchlee

I'd like you feedback on FudAnt - The app for the ants among us (Update: 8/20/2016)  as well.

Thanks!

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Hi Tojin, glad to see this submission in the ideas phase! Would love to see some more detailed info on the concept, like the stuff we discussed, so we can keep hashing it out!

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Thanks Jacob,

I'll add details soon.

Tojin

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Likewise, great to see you in the Ideas phase Tojin! It'd be great to copy the content you've already written from your earlier post in the Research phase to here — which I know you're already working on. Looking forward to seeing how this will evolve!

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Team

Thanks Shane! I'll be adding the content from the research phase and some more stuff soon.