By: Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer, Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute, Jim Flannery, Senior Executive Vice President, Operations and Industry Collaboration, Grocery Manufacturers Association

Product Code Date Labeling ImplementationThere is an undeniable satisfaction that comes with seeing a really good idea move from the realm of the imagined and into the concrete world of reality. The Trading Partner Alliance’s Product Code Date Labeling initiative – with its goal of reducing consumer confusion and helping them make better use of product date labels – is beginning to elicit that glow of gratification. 

The Trading Partner Alliance (TPA) is the formal name of the combined leadership platform comprised of FMI & GMA board members. Since being announced in February, the food and consumer product industry initiative has been almost universally applauded as a concept. But the project recently took a big step into the real world with the publication of two documents: the first, a white paper entitled Product Code Date Labeling: Crucial Initiative to Reduce Consumer Confusion and the second, an implementation guide for manufacturers and retailers adopting the voluntary industry standard of the TPA endorsed date-label language.

Both documents were presented and discussed at the September 8th meeting of the TPA. The white paper offers general background, context, and resources of the date label project. As the name conveys, the implementation guide offers those activating the program with style guidance and best practices for standardizing date label language while giving companies maximum freedom in accommodating the date labels to the needs of their brand, products and packaging.

The TPA Product Code Date labeling working group – formed when the TPA first adopted the initiative in January of 2016 continues to work on its two remaining tasks. Those are: 1) determining a policy perspective regarding the legislation that has been recently introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and 2) shaping the elements of a consumer education campaign to take place in 2018.

The satisfying journey of making this good idea become a reality continues. The question that remains is simply, when will you help move this idea into reality by putting it into effect on your brands and in your stores?