FIFO Racks and Food Date Labels
Ever looked at a food or beverage label and wondered when to throw the product away because of the expiration date? With 10 different, acceptable date label phrases that food and beverage manufacturers use, it’s no wonder consumers are confused as to when their items will expire. Today, manufacturers use labels saying, “expires on,” “use by,” “better if used by.” The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are set to adopt standardized labels that say either, “use by” or “Best if used by.”
According to these organizations, “’Use by’ is a safety designation, meant to indicate when perishable foods are no longer good. “Best if Used By” is a quality descriptor — a subjective guess of when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor.” Methods for setting these dates has been left to manufacturers, so when consumers see a label that says, “use by,” consumers tend to believe it is a safety claim, when in fact it is typically a date that the product will be at its best in flavor and appearance. In fact, one consumer survey showed that 91 percent of consumers will throw food away if it is after the “use by” date when in fact, it is still safe to eat or drink.
Manufacturers have until July 2018 to change to the new standards, although this is voluntary and means they may not change the date label at all. How can distributors be sure that they are selling the freshest products? They can store and pick the products using the FIFO methodology.
FIFO Racks – First in, First Out
FIFO means first in, first out, and if you store your products using this methodology, you can ensure your customers will be getting the freshest products. Using customized FIFO racks from UNEX, gravity feed rear-load shelving means merchandise is stocked from the rear and flows forward to the picking area. When the item or carton is picked, roller tracks carry the next-in-line item forward. Products that have been on the racks the longest flow forward to be picked next, while newer products are stocked in the back of the racks, minimizing waste.
Gravity flow racks keep inventory in full visibility. Because items are picked from the front and stocked from the rear, restocking and picking can be performed at the same time with minimal travel and greater efficiency.
Using FIFO racks and the new date labels means food and beverage products will be used within the correct date range. FIFO will keep your products up to date. But FIFO works for products with fast cycle times like apparel, or parts with warranties, or products that can become quickly obsolete. So, use UNEX FIFO racks when you want to cut down on product spoilage or out-of-date items, which will lead to bottom line improvements.