What is in this article?:
- Supplier Leadership Award 2012 Winner for Unsaleables Reduction: Mead Johnson Nutrition
- Improving Shelf Life
SN has awarded Mead Johnson's efforts to reduce unsaleables with the Supplier Leadership Award for Unsaleables Reduction.
In their never-ending quest to maintain products in sellable form — thereby preventing them from entering the product purgatory known as “unsaleables” — manufacturers and retailers often focus a great deal of attention on reducing dents, tears and other damages to packaging.
Mead Johnson Nutrition, Evansville, Ind., maker and global distributor of the well-known Enfamil infant formula among other brands, also endeavors to keep its containers in pristine condition. But it turns out that in Mead Johnson’s case, a bigger contributor to unsaleables is expiration — that is, products that have exceeded their expiration date, though that can be 12 months from the date of manufacture.
“The majority of our returns are due to expiration dates,” said Jeff Martin, manager, retail customer operations for Mead Johnson, who added that many people, including Mead’s own salespeople, are surprised when they hear that.
Consequently, in the past year, Mead Johnson’s U.S. division has been actively seeking more ways to extend the shelf life of its products without compromising product integrity, and to ensure that the products are sold in retail outlets best suited to selling infant formula. For these efforts the company was selected to receive SN’s Supplier Leadership award in the unsaleables reduction category.
Two ways to extend shelf life is to reformulate the product or determine through “stability testing” that the expiration date of an existing formula could be extended without reformulation. Martin is working closely with the Mead Johnson’s research and development department to explore those opportunities.
“I met with the R&D group earlier this year to help them understand the impact of expiration dates on unsaleables,” he said. “It was a real eye-opener for them.”
Tinkering with a product’s formula, of course, has to be done without altering taste or quality, especially for a product targeting children. “That’s part of the challenge,” Martin acknowledged.