Shelf Life and Shipping

shelf life

Nowadays all consumer products, from foodstuffs to medicines, carry date stamps. The most simple of those stamps is the date on which the product was manufactured and the “Best Before” (BB) date. The Best Before date is a euphemism for Expiration Date or Sell By Date. This is the date on which manufacturers deem products are no longer safe for public consumption. These date stamps have come about as a result of consumers suing manufacturers and retailers for selling products that were no longer edible, efficacious, or safe to use. In this article, we take a look at the effects of shelf life on shipping in the logistics industry. 

Shelf Life and Shipping

Legal Responsibility

Suppliers now have a legal responsibility to inform customers when a product was made and when it expires. Date stamps are accompanied by warning labels that indicate how long a product can be used. These warning labels also tell the consumer how it should be stored after being opened. Suppliers also give an expiry date of up to thirty percent earlier than when a product will actually expire. However, what retailers have to be aware of is the entire life span of a product. This includes the ship by date and the shelf life. The ship by date is the date of manufacture to the date of shipping. Meanwhile, shelf life is how long a product can sit on the reseller’s shelf after they have received it.

Ship By Date

It has become increasingly important for products to have a ship-by date. Although suppliers make the call on the ship-by date, retailers may be responsible for shipping on or before the date. This depends on the buyer’s and seller’s agreement between both parties. Essentially, the ship-by date is the date before products have begun to degrade. After that date, those goods may not be shipped to retailers or customers. In current conditions, goods can be left standing at the docks or at truck stops. This has been a big issue in the logistics industry due to delays caused by COVID and insufficient truckers.

An expired shipping date doesn’t necessarily affect the shelf life or best before date unless ship-by dates and expiration dates are identical. This means that these goods can’t get to where they need to be sold even though there is nothing wrong with them. The use of refrigerated transport, or cold chain, helps to extend ship–by and best-before dates.

Logistics Planning

It is difficult to imagine how much long-term planning goes into getting products like a can of beans onto a store shelf. This requires buyers and merchandisers to fully understand the life-cycle. They must understand the lifespan of every consumable product, even those that biodegrade slowly. They also need to anticipate market demand and understand how to meet market demand. This is can be especially challenging for seasonal products. There is also a need to also understand the availability of least cost routing to ensure that products reach them on time.

Unusual Best-before Products

Fresh produce and perishable items have ship-by dates that are pretty close to best-before dates. There are other products that also have ship-by/best-before dates that don’t seem so obvious. Some examples are explosives, beverages, tires, chemicals, and makeup/cosmetics. Don’t fret if the lady of the house is applying makeup in front of the fridge where she has started to keep it. She is simply extending the make-up’s shelf life.

Additional Information: Expiration Dates – Questions and Answers – U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Cannonball Express Transportation

Cannonball Express Shipping Company has been providing top-of-the-line service at a reasonable rate. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, we provide nationwide refrigerated LTL services, as well as, local delivery services. Contact us today!

Nationwide Shipping Company Services:

  • Refrigerated LTL deliveries in the lower 48 states
  • Refrigerated Cross dock

Local Shipping Company Services:

  • Redelivery Services
  • Truckload & LTL Capabilities
  • PUP
  • Cross dock
  • Transload
  • Warehouse and Distribution capabilities from multiple Omaha Locations