Best before and use by dates are extremely important in our real world, sharp end, wholesaling activities. It is essential from a legal point of view that they are properly managed, and it is an important part of our offering to provide our customers with the maximum possible life on products.

We have systems which ensure regular date checks take place, and these are double checked in a depot audit process undertaken by directors.

Given the importance that we and our customers attach to these issues it can be very frustrating to deal with the cavalier attitude of suppliers to consistency and visibility of this information on both outer packaging and even on retail units.

A quick survey uncovered problems too numerous to all fit in this column. For instance, Askey’s packs of 10 ice cream wafers were clearly coded on the retail units, but not at all on the outer.

Vodka Cruiser is a new FAB product in 66cl bottles, which we sell singly as well as in cases. It has the date printed on the shoulder of the bottle directly onto the glass. Not only is the print very small, but on the darker coloured products in the range the product makes the date completely invisible. The same goes for the two Salsa varieties of Doritos Dips 300g.

I would make a plea that all suppliers look at this aspect of their packaging and improve it. Some industry conventions or best practice rules would be beneficial to the whole industry.

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