If you are a vending operator, you need to know to be aware of the shelf life of your vending items so you can keep your product tasting the best. The number one complaint that customers have is that their product is out of date.
There are different terms that you need to know since different manufacturers use different language. Most manufacturers will use a phrase such as “sell by”, “best by”, “use by”, or “best before”, but this doesn’t mean that the product is going to expire on that date, taste terrible, and make you sick if you consume it. Most snacks and drinks can go another few months past this date and you will hardly notice a difference. The food or beverage will gradually start to get harder and taste more stale but they won’t harm you unless they are years past the date.
Also, by storing your products in cool, dark areas, you can extend the life of your snacks and drinks considerably. You may have already found that it is rather difficult to find the “best by” or expiration date on many food packages. Some manufacturers only provide the date on which it was “born”, while others will provide some long code of numbers and letters which will somehow relate to the manufactured date or the expiration date. Unfortunately, there is no law which standardizes how manufacturers label the shelf life of their product.
So with that in mind, I have compiled a list of popular vending items along with a general rule of how long they should be kept in circulation from the date they were manufactured. Once again, this doesn’t mean that the product will be bad after this time period, it just means that the snack or beverage won’t taste its best if you keep it in circulation longer, and that you should consider giving it out as Halloween Candy instead of potentially loosing a good account because you were being too cheap.
|Chocolate Candy||9-12 Months|
|Sugary Candy (i.e.: Runts, Mike & Ikes, Skittles, Hot Tamales)||18 Months|
|Pop Tarts||5-7 Months|
|Granola Bars||6-8 Months|
|Bottled Diet or Non-Diet Soda||3-4 Months|
|Canned Diet Soda||3-4 Months|
|Canned Non-Diet Soda||9-12 Months|
|Gatorade or other Sugary Juice Drinks||9-12 Months|
|Bottled Water||10 Years|