The effect of sell-by dates on purchase volume and food waste

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18 Scopus citations


This article constructs a theoretical model of rational food waste and analyzes how an extension of a food product's sell-by date affects households’ decisions of purchase volume and food waste. We then use the elimination of New York City's regulation of sell-by dates for pasteurized milk products as an empirical case and examine whether the city's new policy effectively reduces food waste and improves consumer welfare. Our results suggest that the new policy reduces purchase volume by about 10%. Both theoretically and empirically, we show that while the observed quantity declines, the actual consumption of milk increases, implying a reduction in food waste by more than 10%. Furthermore, we prove that this consumer welfare-improving pattern is generalizable to all types of perishable food with price-inelastic demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101879
JournalFood Policy
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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