Produce shelf life can vary widely between supermarkets and about half of the products sampled in a recent study spoiled prematurely, according to new research from Zest Labs.
Zest Labs has examined random samples of strawberry clamshells, hearts of romaine lettuce and packaged salad mixes purchased from eight major U.S. grocery store chains between February and May. The study -titled “Half-Bad Is Not Good”- found that the freshness “varied significantly” from store to store and within individual stores, leading to early spoilage.
Of the items purchased, 58% of the strawberries, 54% of the packaged salad mixes and 49% of the romaine hearts spoiled before the expected shelf-life periods. Zest Labs, based in San Jose, a provider of freshness management solutions, said that consumers should “conservatively expect” to receive four days of shelf life for strawberries and packaged salad mixes and seven days for romaine hearts, based on academic studies and input from grocers.
“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,” Zest Labs CEO Peter Mehring said in a statement. “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.”