Speaking with DairyReporter.com, EDA general secretary Dr Joop Kleibeuker said that dairy industry players including processors and retailers have a part to play by educating consumers on the exact meaning of 'use by dates' and by reducing the size of the packaging used.
The comments come just days after the EDA-organised World Dairy Forum, at which dairy product waste reduction was one of three areas of focus.
The European Commission (EC) DG Sanco’s Birgit van Tongelen, WRAP UK’s Sophie Easteal and Arla Foods’ Jais Valeur all spoke on the issue at the event.
“Level playing field” vital
“The main area of improvement is education of consumers about labeling and use by dates and what they mean exactly. But responsibility also lies with processors,” said Kleibeuker.
“Packaging can play a very important role. Food waste could be reduced massively by simply using the right size of packaging. Processors and retailers shouldn't be offering two and a half litre bottles when people only need half a litre.”
“It is important to have consumers that are pleased with products. Consumers will be happier not wasting food.”
Kleibeuker added that the EDA is working with a number of industry figures in their efforts to reduce dairy product waste, with an overall aim of creating a “level playing field” in terms of guidelines.
“It is important to settle on some consistent best practice guidelines that give the industry knowledge and create a level playing field that will meet the needs and expectations of the consumer. No consumer is looking to throw away 50% of the milk or dairy products they buy,” Kleibeuker added.
“Even if it is a small percentage overall, it is still a significant amount in litres of milk.”
Earlier today, processor representative Dairy UK published new guidance for milk and dairy product manufacturers on date marking.
The guidance, which provides clear and ambiguous advice for consumers, builds on work by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The plan aims to reduce food wastage in the home without comprising food safety and quality.
“It is important that we do this for the dairy industry, because our products are found in more than 98% of homes. They are therefore an integral part of most people’s lives. So clearly we need to ensure that they are appropriately date marked,” said Dairy UK technical director, Ed Komorowski.
Kleibeuker revealed that the EDA had working closely with Dairy UK and WRAP UK to develop the guidance.
“Improvements in the clarity and consistency of date labeling and storage guidance can help consumers reduce the amount of food thrown away. We welcome this guidance and hope this will enable the dairy sector to build on the good progress already made,” said WRAP’s Andrew Parry.