Preventing Food Waste – prevent the waste of dairy products after the expiration date

Develop an innovative solution to help consumers reduce waste of dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt) after the expiration date – help them to use their senses to determine whether a dairy product is still good to eat after the best before date, and encourage them to consume it.


Current Situation

The Ministry of LNV, specifically Sustainable Food team, is looking for an innovative solution to prevent food waste of dairy products by consumers.


Overall, Dutch consumers throw away on average 34.3 kilos of solid food per person per year, and 45.5 liters of liquids. The most wasted products are bread and dairy products. Dairy products account for 5.1 kilos of solid food waste and 14 liters of liquid food waste per person per year. This has a lot of environmental, social and financial implications.


The difference between “best before” and “use by”

Date marks are confusing for consumers: in the Netherlands about 50% of consumers know the difference between “best before” and “use by”. When people are unsure whether a product is still safe to consume, they might unnecessarily throw it out.


The use by date (TGT in NL) is a safety indicator, you should eat (or freeze) the product before the date. The best before date (THT in NL), often used for dairy, is a quality indicator. The product is still safe to eat after the date, and to determine if it is still tasty you can use your senses: look, smell and taste the product. People do not always do this for various reasons. Lack of knowledge of how to interpret the THT date and how to determine if a product with a THT date is good to consume after that date contributes to food waste at household level.


The biggest food wasters

Households with children (0-12) are one of the biggest wasters of food, and they more often throw away a product directly after the THT date has passed (15%) than other people (10%). The reason they give is that they are afraid to get sick. 50% of young families now and then throw away dairy that is past the THT date. More than 8 out of 10 parents are willing to be more flexible with the THT date if they know this is possible (which it is). Informing people and helping them recognize when a product is still good to eat can help them rely on their own judgement more and save a lot of food from being wasted.


All our communication about food waste for consumers is done through the Nutrition center (Dutch: Voedingscentrum) and Stichting Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling (of which LNV is an active member), where you can also find our current consumer food waste campaign:

On the website of the Nutrition Center there is a lot of information about food waste:

Information for consumers about date marking:

And in the ‘bewaarwijzer’ you can find information about dairy products:


What are we looking for?

We would like to help Dutch people consume liquid dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt) that have passed the best before (THT) date but are still perfectly safe and tasty to eat. Help them to use their senses to determine whether a product is still tasty. We are looking for something simple and creative that will be very easy to use at home, something that really activates people to use it and reduce their food waste. There are multiple angles of approach possible. LNV is looking for an innovative solution that finds market adoption, is feasible and scalable to apply.


What we are not looking for?

We aren’t looking for (just another) app, this might be possible, but we highly prefer a non-digital solution.


What is the impact?

Worldwide, about 33% of all food is lost or wasted. This is a huge problem. Food waste costs about 500 kilo CO2 worldwide per person per year. Especially meat and dairy contribute to climate impact through food waste. The objective of the Ministry of LNV is Sustainable Development Goal 12.3: to halve the current food waste by 2030. Given that dairy contributes a lot to food waste in the Netherlands and lack of knowledge of shelf-life by consumers also contributes to this issue, this challenge could make a significant contribution to achieve our goal.