Zest Labs tested the three items at eight U.S. retail chains from February to May, and found shelf life varied significantly from store to store and at each location, according to a news release.
Key findings, according to the release, from the research were:
- About half of the sampled items (49% of romaine hearts, 58% of strawberries and 54% of packaged salads) spoiled prematurely;
- The shelf life different at individual stores by as much as 21 days for romaine, 12 days for strawberries and nine days for packaged salads; and
- Several stores sold some items that had expired or spoiled by the time of purchase.
“Most grocery stores assume that the produce they are receiving has uniform freshness or shelf-life, but the data shows there is significant variation in freshness both between stores in a region and within the individual stores themselves,” Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs, said in the release. “This shelf-life variability leads to dissatisfied customers who purchase produce that spoils before they can consume it and, as a result, may take their business elsewhere to find fresher, more consistent quality produce.”
The study found “use by” dates often aren’t accurate.
Zest Fresh, a post-harvest freshness management solution from Zest Labs, helps retailers manage fresh food to improve delivered freshness and reduce shrink, according to the release.