NEW DELHI: The next time you order packaged food online at a discount, keep an eye on the expiry date. Since, one cannot physically check the packets, many consumers have alleged that sellers on e-commerce sites have been trying to clear stocks of packaged food that are on the brink of expiry and have limited shelf life at reduced prices.
“This leads to the product not being fully utilised, resulting in wastage and loss of money for the consumer,” said a spokesperson for LocalCircles, a citizen engagement platform that is backed by industrialists such as Anand Mahindra and Nadir Godrej, among others.
LocalCircles conducted a survey of 10,000 consumers, who suggested that they ordered the food product as it was on a small discount, only to find on delivery that they now need to consume it in one month instead of the full shelf life of 12 months. Around 96 per cent of the respondents said e-commerce sites should mandatorily disclose manufacturing and expiry dates of the packaged food products sold on their sites.
“We are in the process of implementing a system where the customer will see the expiry date of the product before ordering,” said Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder of Grofers. “Right now, we do store expiry of every batch on the back end and there is a check at the warehouse level where the expiry is checked before packaging an order.”
While e-commerce sites currently are not governed by any policy that lays down rules on display and selling of food products, Dhindsa said, “Typically, a product will only ship to a customer if it is within reasonable window of usage. In case a customer complains about the expiry within 48 hours of delivery, we typically offer a replacement. However, expiry related complaints are less than three in 1,000 for us.”
An Amazon India spokesperson did not reply to an email questionnaire from TOI. The US e-commerce giant has recently started its Amazon Pantry service here that specialises in quick delivery of food, snacks and household items. The LocalCircles spokesperson said initial discussions with the department of consumer affairs revealed that a policy on similar lines for e-commerce sites could be on the cards and maybe implemented as early as July.