Being opaque isn’t always a bad thing. Leggings, red wine, bedroom curtains—the less we see through, the better. But that’s definitely not the case when it comes to the food we eat. In today’s culture, transparency is everything.
Don’t think so? Stop and take a look around the next time you’re in the grocery store. You’ll probably notice a lot of shoppers inspecting product labels, scanning them for ingredients, origins, and allergen warnings. They might even be looking to see how a product was farmed or manufactured. That’s because now more than ever, consumers demand transparency, especially with food. They want to know where it’s coming from, the ingredients involved in its production, and whether it was grown, raised, or produced using the most ethical practices possible. Most importantly, consumers want to feel secure knowing their fruits, vegetables, and packaged food products pose zero risk to themselves or their family. Considering all this, transparency and traceability have become two of the most important factors driving brand reputation and risk reduction for food retailers worldwide.
If food brands do happen to encounter a safety crisis, retailers and regulatory bodies alike should be able to trace a products’ ingredients to the raw material and production line level. Fortunately, government regulations have become much more scrupulous in making sure food manufacturers and fresh food purveyors practice transparency throughout the production and distribution process. Being able to trace a problem back through your grocery supply chain to identify, isolate, and recall specific items can ultimately salvage a brand’s reputation and lend to decreased waste. This then reinforces consumers’ confidence in a retailer’s ability to effectively manage hazardous situations.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re the president of John Doe Fruit, a fresh food brand specializing in locally-sourced apples and homemade pies. You’ve partnered with several organic farms that provide John Doe Fruit with its fresh produce, which then gets distributed to various grocery stores and supermarkets around the country. In an unfortunate turn of events, you learn from one of your suppliers that her latest batch of apples is contaminated with listeria, a harmful bacterium that poses serious health risks to consumers. Going into crisis control, you immediately order all distributors to pull contaminated items from trucks, store shelves, and any other John Doe Fruit sell channel. And while you voluntarily issue a product recall to protect consumers from food-borne illness, you can safely assume most will take heed the next time they see a John Doe Fruit label in their local produce section.
Want to learn about the other key trends influencing grocery retail innovation? Check out our white paper, “Five Consumer Trends Shaping Today’s Grocery Market.”