11 Jul Innovation to Meet the Demand for Transparency in the Food Industry
Transparency is becoming one of the concerns of consumers regarding food and beverage products, as found in a study published in 2013 by BBMG, GlobeScan, and SustainAbility. More than 8 out of 10 consumers globally, said that “ingredient transparency is a very important factor” when shopping for food and beverage products, including 86% of consumers in emerging markets and 84% in developed markets. This is the same trend that has been gathered in the last few years from media, along with others related such as sustainability, when anticipating trends impacting the industry.
In the same line, many brands are changing their mindset to adapt to the new circumstances, while new opportunities for business and innovation have arisen around transparency. Consumers want to know about food producers and the way they bring foods to the markets and new mobile apps, networks and online initiatives, and even the brand’s own services, are providing them the information. Here are some of them.
In the area of mobile, some applications are collecting information about brands in order to let consumers make informed decisions when shopping for food and beverage products, or any others, as the following:
Open Label. This mobile app allows consumers and organizations to attach their own “labels” directly onto the barcode of a product. This way consumer can recommend (or avoid) the product, and give their reasons, including links to articles or documents to support their view.
GoodGuide. This project, led by Professor Dara O’Rourke of UC Berkeley, consists of chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists, and life cycle analysis experts who rates products and companies on their health, environmental and social performance. They have created an app that provides this kind of information about a product simply taking a photo at its bar code in a shop.
Boycott. This app helps consumers align their principles with their purchases. The mechanism is quite similar to the previous apps. Buycott allows consumers to scan products, learn about brands and the companies that own them, and decide if they are fit with their interests. Users can also create campaigns to support different causes related to delivering information about the choices that consumers make.
Fooducate. It is a mobile grocery application that informs shoppers about how healthy is the food they want to buy simply scanning the barcode. A scientific algorithm based on its nutrition facts and ingredient list rates each product. A scientific algorithm, based on its nutrition facts and ingredient list, rates each product.
Chemical Cuisine. The aim of this app is to provide information about the additives contained in food, based on the data collected by the US’s Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The center updates information, providing currently data about over 130 food additives, with expert evaluations.
Also, many brands have signed up for the demand for more transparency, creating their own systems to provide the consumer more information about their products.
Smithfield digital. It is an app created by the pork processor and hog producer Smithfield Foods Inc. It was developed in conjunction with their 2013 Integrated Report allowing consumers to find out additional information about their sustainability programs. Once the users hold a digital device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet, over the printed pages of the report, they get extra and animated content like videos, graphics, or audios as well as information about how to contact the company to get more information about a certain topic.
Track My Macca’s. It is an app created by McDonalds that aims consumer to access to information about their supply chain in real time. The app uses the customer’s location and a scanned QR code included on the burger’s container to tell the user, depending on the date and time of its consult, the source of the meat that they are about to consume and the place where it was processed before reaching the establishment in which they had bought the product.
Other online resources aligned with the interest of consumers in receiving transparent information about what they are buying are:
Behind the brands. This is an Oxfam’s initiative that analyzes and provides information on the biggest food companies’ policies on issues from water usage to transparency, equality, and sustainability. Also, one can see the evolution of the companies from February 2013 until now and the global punctuation they received regarding a total of 7 matters.
Elabel. It is “a network of concerned consumers, professionals and civil society organizations that share knowledge about consumer products”, according to their own definition. They have several websites and mobile apps that allow consumers to get information about categories such as: Nutrition, Biodiversity, Packaging, or Carbon Footprint by scanning the products’ bar code with a phone.
Real Time Farms. This is an online food guide to which Bistro Aix and more than 60 other restaurants in the United States have joined and which allows consumers to track their food from farm to table. The user enters a zip code in the website and has access to information about the restaurants, as well as about 3,200 farms, 1,600 artisans and 6,900 farmers markets.