Sample analysis


The answers to the questionnaire

The sociologist's comment




To understand how the issue of expiry dates is perceived and regarded by consumers, A Good Opportunity has commissioned the Department of Economics of Turin University - a statistical survey in order to test the consumers’ behaviours when buying and consuming food in Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta.










The survey carried out on a random sample of families from Piedmont and the Aosta Valley aims to define different profiles in purchasing behaviour and food consumption.


Almost 95% of the interviewees consists of people who takes care of grocery shopping while the remaining 5%, even if not directly involved, knows well the buying habits of those who, in the family, carry out this task.


The frequency with which the grocery shopping is done, actually depends on the kind of food purchased; for example, bread is purchased daily by 32% of the families and several times a week by 39%. Fruits and vegetables are purchased weekly by the 94% of households: throughout each week in 58.5% of cases, and once a week in 35.5% of cases.

Even fresh products, such as dairy products, deli meats, yogurt, meat, etc.., are purchased weekly by 92% of the interviewees, with a 47% of the families buying several times a week and 39.6% once a week. Larder provisions such as: pasta, rice, preserves, beverages, coffee and so on are purchased at different intervals. In this case, only 26.8% of households plans weekly purchases while for the remaining 69.5% of families do it once a week in 41% of cases and monthly in 28.1% of cases.


Food purchases are always or often planned, depending on discounts and promotions in 41.5% of cases. Despite the possible convenience, 38% of families declare they do not buy oversize packages, 25.8% sometimes, 6.6% always, 11.3% often and 18% rarely. Among those who buy oversized packages, the 61% rely on the usual brand while 35% do not care for brand but only for cheapness.


74.1% of consumers know that the products exhibit two different date labelling: Use by ... or Best before ... 61.9% believe that the indication Use by ... means that consuming that food past the specified date could be bad for one’s health (67.7% among those who have a higher education and 53.1% among those who have a lower qualification). While, regarding the date labelling Best before ... the answers are evenly distributed between: it could harm your health by 17.9%, it may have lost its nutritional properties by 23%, it may have lost flavour or aroma by 26.6%. 22.1% gave different answers, while 10,5% have no idea.






46% declare to check only the date on the package, while 42.6% also checks if the wording ‘best before’ is present; only 2.4% said they never check the date labelling on the products. Among those who always or sometimes check it, the 72.7% look also for ‘best before’ indication both when buying and when consuming; only 9%  check the date before consuming and 18% while purchasing. It is important to point out how, among those who said they only check the date indicated without worrying about whether or not there is the ‘best before’ indication, at least 93% declare they have the same consumption behaviour in both cases.

Regarding the habit of checking several packages of the same product looking for the one with the farthest expiry date, 67.5% admit doing it regularly or often at least,  while a good 12.8% claim to never do it. Among the ones who declare to make this choice, even once in a while, the 68.5% do it for all products and 31.5% for only a few.

Those customers regularly checking  only certain types of products generally do it for fresh products (82.5% yogurt, fresh milk 78.7%, 54.7% eggs, 51% pre-packaged deli meats and cheese). When asked about the reason for the choice of a package with the remotest expiry date 51.7% of consumers explain they are not going to eat it shortly and 47.8% believe this is a guarantee of freshness and flavour .

53.5% of those who prefer to buy pre-packaged products, are willing to buy a product with a close expiration date but still retaining its properties only if they are certain to consume it  within the date indicated or shortly after, while 39.8 % will not buy it at all.

41.6% of the interviewees declare they systematically check the packaging of the products they have at home in order to prioritize those close to the date indicated on the package, while a good 17.5% declares not to check them, ever. Within the first group in 85% of the cases all the products in the pantry are checked out; this particularly happens for fresh products  (83% fresh milk and yogurt, 76.5% dairy and deli meats, eggs 56%, 45% fresh pasta and 45%  pre-packaged meat and fish) in order to consume them within their use-by date.

The 36% of interviewees state they do not consume foods past their expiry date, despite their good appearance, smell and taste, 25% consume them only within a few days afterwards and a 18.5% consume them regardless. Such products consumed past their use-by date are mainly those from the pantry (53% rice and pasta, snacks and biscuits 40%, 28% canned goods), while greater attention is paid to the consumption of fresh products if expired (22.7% fruit and vegetables ready for consumption, 12.6% dairy products and deli meats, 17.8% fresh milk and yogurt).

73.8% defines ‘food waste’ good food and not eaten, such as not reused leftovers, 41% refer to expired or spoiled food that is thrown away and 22% to food surpluses destroyed by the manufacturers. Almost 50% of responders have no idea how much food is wasted daily by Italians. However, 41.2%, mainly to avoid food wastage do not buy more than necessary, and 29% reuse leftovers.




The answers to the questionnaire









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  Sample analysis by type


  Employement status of the respondent 


  Educational level of the respondent




The sociologist's comment



Domestic food waste: some thoughts on the survey from Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta data collection.



Maria Cristina Martinengo



University of Turin-ESOMAS (Economic-Social Sciences and Mathematics-Statistics)















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