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Longer shelf life helps to tackle food waste and meet growing demand for more sustainable food

As consumers become more aware of the impact their behavior has on the environment, they are increasingly interested in concrete ways to reduce their footprint. Now more than ever, consumers seek to purchase products that reflect their values and are sourced, produced, and packaged as sustainably as possible. At Chr. Hansen, we commissioned a study to explore how consumer interest in sustainability applies to the yogurt industry. Our findings revealed that the shelf life longevity is a key factor consumers consider when making a yogurt purchase, as a means to save money and reduce waste. 

In the yogurt industry, date labels are a key cause of food waste 

Studies of consumer behavior suggest that an estimated half of all yogurt products are discarded without ever having been opened. This is not due to actual spoilage, but rather to products surpassing the ‘best before’ dates that lead many consumers to believe they are no longer safe to eat. In fact, our research found that the date label was a contributing factor in 70% of instances where yogurt went to waste at the consumer.

At Chr. Hansen, we know that it is possible to keep yogurt-like products in the refrigerator past their ‘best before’ date without compromising safety or taste. Progress in food science has made it possible to keep yogurt fresher for longer so that consumers need not discard edible food upon reaching its labeled ‘best before’ date. Instead, consumers can simply see, smell and taste whether their yogurt is still fresh and safe to eat.  

The push to fight food waste comes from consumers, producers and policymakers

Consumers concerned about sustainable consumption welcome opportunities to purchase foods that offer a longer shelf life, and retailers are well-positioned to play a role in offering more sustainable solutions. In fact, our research found that when consumers were presented with a new idea for a product – a yogurt naturally able to stay fresh for an extra week – they were very enthusiastic about making a trial purchase.

For example in Spain, the percentage of interested consumers was highest, with 29% expressing openness to purchasing this type of product. A very convincing performance for a product introduction above average benchmarked against all other yogurt product concepts tested in Spain.

By extending the shelf life of yogurt using natural solutions, dairies can enjoy an advantage over competitors by better satisfying consumer preferences for more sustainable options. Given the broader push across Europe among retailers and policymakers to tackle food waste and adopt concrete reduction targets, now is the time for yogurt makers to embrace evolving preferences and innovate toward more sustainable solutions.

Learn more about consumers' attitudes to a sustainable food consumption and food waste.

Consumers demand sustainable food consumption​

Find out how the growing demand for sustainable consumption challenges food producers’ ability to fight food waste and what opportunities lie ahead for those committing to sustainability.​

Date labeling can lead to food waste

As date labeling is a key cause of much wasted food it is crucial to understand consumer attitudes towards yogurt with longer shelf life. Recent insights indicate promising opportunities for extending shelf life and communicating about it to support consumers’ fight against food waste.

Extending the shelf life of yogurt can help consumers to reduce food waste

Too short shelf life is the key driver of food waste and makes consumers look for longer shelf life at the point of purchase. Check out our new insights in this report.

A new normal: understanding attitudes towards food waste just after COVID-19 lockdowns

We have investigated how COVID-19 has shaped consumer attitudes towards food waste by conducting surveys in two countries affected by the virus – China and Germany. Fighting food waste is high on the agenda in both countries. This common effort is noteworthy: while these two countries differ in many ways, they are similar with regards to the shared intention of fighting food waste among their consumers.

A new yogurt product that claims to fight food waste: what do consumers think?

How would consumers react to a test concept that claims to fight food waste? Well, the concept we showed to consumers indicated a willingness to make a trial purchase if consumers could find the product where they normally shop for groceries.