Product Life Feasibility Study

September 2012

The feasibility study examined how manufacturers and retailers set product life and how much of this time is taken within the supply chain. Cheddar cheese and yoghurt where chosen as worked examples.

The study found that:

  • Current scientific knowledge is sufficient to determine the total product life, whether it is determined through quality or safety failures.
  • The actual life of the product is determined typically by calculation against the product’s total life, for example 15-25% less than the total life of the product.
  • Shelf life was found to be consistent across retailers – though exceptions existed and ‘different’ shelf lives were also given to products for export markets.
  • Retailers are consistent in requiring 75% of life into depot, though evidence from interviewees suggests that product is delivered with the remaining life far exceeding 75%.

The study concludes that there is appetite for extending shelf life but not at the expense of brand integrity or quality. These quality parameters are brand and product-specific and based on historical and perceived expectations of the product. Packaging innovations followed by manufacturing and product advancement were identified as key opportunities for extending shelf life.