A third of Americans would stop purchasing products if their use-by dates were removed
July 31st, 2023, Janice Fernandes

A third of Americans would stop purchasing products if their use-by dates were removed

Confusion about date labeling creates an estimated 10 percent of all food waste in the United States. So, what if CPG brands got rid of ‘best before’ or ‘use-by’ dates? How would American consumers react?

Data from a recent YouGov Surveys: Serviced study shows that nearly half of Americans (47%) would consider purchasing only certain types of perishable products, if they didn’t have some kind of expiry date or recommendation. While around a third (31%) would not purchase any products that don’t display best before dates, nearly one in eight (13%) would buy all perishable products, a small but still significant share of Americans.

The age demographics reveal that younger consumers, as well as 35-44-year-oldsare more likely to buy all types of perishable products without expiry dates – 17% of 18-34-year-olds and 16% of 35-54-year-olds. Nearly half of Americans over 55 years says buying perishable products without use-by dates would depend on the product (49%). However nearly two-fifths (38%) say they would not buy such products at all.

Out of the 31% of all US adults who said they wouldn’t buy perishable that didn’t have expiry dates, nearly half (49%) would be convinced to buy products without use-by dates if there are visible signs of product quality. Clear information about the product’s freshness/ safety would also persuade 47% of consumers to purchase.

A third of consumers say their trust in the brand/ manufacturer would convince them to purchase the product (33%). Reputation of the retailer also plays an important role with 28% of consumers saying that would sway them. However, price is an influencing factor for 30% of consumers. Recommendations from others would convince 14% of consumers.

A higher proportion of consumers between the ages of 35 to 54 years cite price as a factor in convincing them to purchase products without use-by dates (33%), more than trust in the brand (28%) or the retailer (27%).

Among consumers who would consider purchasing products without use-by dates, nearly two-thirds (64%) would purchase personal care products. More than half of consumers are comfortable with packaged goods like canned or dry food (54%) and fresh produce (54%), followed closely by beverages (49%).

Americans are less likely to buy meat and poultry and prepared meals if the packages don’t have use-by dates, with only 16% saying they would consider buying these products. Around one in eight say they would consider buying dairy products (13%) and only a tenth would buy seafood (11%).

While dairy products and seafood without expiry dates are the least likely to be purchased by consumers across age groups, younger Americans are slightly more likely than older consumers to say they would be comfortable buying these products without use-by dates.

Over two-thirds of American consumers would rely on the appearance (69%) and smell (67%) of the product to determine its freshness when use-by dates are not mentioned. 

Nearly half suggest they would rely on storage conditions (49%) and manufacture date (48%) to indicate the product is safe for consumption.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on June 26-27, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 1,169 adults in the United States (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, region and race to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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