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During the Food ingredient Europe (FiE) show in November, Innova Market Insights presented its top 10 food and beverage trends for 2014. Retaining consumer trust topped the list. The “You Can Trust Us” trend centers around the recent food safety scares and scandals that have crippled consumer confidence and the fact that companies have their work cut out for them in order to regain consumer trust. As a result, Innova predicts that ingredient origin will be used as a marketing tool and ultimately the consumer should be able to benefit from higher quality foods that are clearly traceable.
While progress has been made during 2013 in improving the traceability of foods in the supply chain, Innova brings attention to the need for products that are traceable from the consumer’s point of view in 2014.
“Traceability is high on the agenda and manufacturers are actively marketing this to consumers,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “For example, global product launch activity featuring the word ‘origin’ for claims purposes increased by 45 percent for the first half of 2013 compared to the second half of 2012, with further growth anticipated.”
General initiatives geared toward consumer-level traceability are indeed emerging. One of the more popular solutions is the use of QR codes. Shoppers can go to the grocery store, grab a package of tomatoes, scan the QR code with their smartphone, and instantly know exactly where and how the tomatoes were grown, when they were harvested, and if the product happens to be subject to a recall.
The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s recent “Transparency and Consumer Trust Survey” finds that nearly 60 percent of consumers think it is “extremely important” for grocery stores and restaurants to provide information about the way the food they sell is grown and raised. And this demand for transparency isn’t going away anytime soon. As the survey points out, younger shoppers (ages 21 to 29), or the “transparency generation,” are more likely to purchase one food item over another based on which item includes more information about its origin.
It’s apparent that if you’re not offering some level of consumer traceability, the public will grow leery. There isn’t a specific piece of information consumers are looking for, just information in general—whether it’s a block of cheese carrying an origin claim or finding out which fisherman caught their salmon. Giving them any relevant and true insights about where their food comes from and how it was raised will go a long way into regaining consumer trust.