Over the last few years, the public opinion have changed significantly about the importance of food information transparency. It seems that the public trust in the food supply chains decreased massively. What will be the effects of this change to the short term future of food traceability?
Food traceability is one of the top five food trends in 2019, according to IFIC (International Food Information Council Foundation).
“ Consumers want to know how their food is produced, where it came from and the quality of the ingredients. They also have broader questions about environmental sustainability, and many seek brands that align with their broader social values.” — IFIC
This statement is backed by several recent surveys.
Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) asked people if they would switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. In 2016, 39% agreed they would switch to such brand, while in 2018, 75% of them answered the same.
Other survey results support the growing consciousness of consumers. 36 percent of Americans reported following a specific eating pattern or diet, almost three times more than in 2017 (14%).
All surveys show growing consciousness amongst consumers regarding their food choices. But what caused this rapid growth?
The effects of technology and media
Following the media, someone could think that the number of outbreaks and food frauds have been growing during the recent years. In reality, this is the result of two advancements:
- Thanks to the technology advancements, cheaper and more accurate inspection results reveal more cases of contamination.
- Meanwhile, wide range online media access and eye-catching headlines result in growing consumer attention. Combined with massive social media sharing, these articles are spreading rapidly.
People are simply seeing more cases to be revealed, and due to the emotional journalism, their dissatisfaction grows rapidly.
Google search trends also show that whenever an outbreak is published or a food fraud is revealed, there is an enormous growth in the related searches.
It seems like consumers are getting confused about food related information. In a survey, 80% of consumers said there is a lot of conflicting information about what foods to eat or avoid. They also can not trust even the most prestigious brands being genuine, let alone trusting the attributes like organic/bio, non-GM, or geographical indications.
“With every new food scandal, it transpires that the companies often do not even know where exactly their food comes from. The authorities tolerate this. They have to be sanctioned for this.” — Foodwatch
We expect this trend to continue in 2019, as media outlets see that people respond actively to these topics, and the number of potential cases are growing. This presents a demand for technology solutions which provide clear product information.
Blockchain gaining ground
During 2018, blockchain based food traceability was heralded by many people as the savior in the current consumer dissatisfaction. While blockchain can not solve all problems on its own, it is an important step forward.
We believe food traceability is on the verge of a technological shift on each front:
- Data collection
IoT technology becomes cheaper, more reliable, and easier to use, replacing more tasks from weight measurement to temperature monitoring. This will lead to trustless data collection.
- Data analysis
Artificial intelligence and big data technologies will enable food companies and authorities to analyse supply chain activities in depth to find anomalies.
- Data processing and storage
Blockchain based data processing automations, and the immutable distributed ledger technology will complete the trustless supply chain idea, where no single company or people need to be trusted to ensure that the data is genuine and correct.
Currently blockchain has a strong PR advantage for food companies. It is a hot topic, a synonym of cutting edge technology, where the companies which are making the headlines show that they are leading the innovation in their industry.
In 2019, as retail chains like Auchan, WalMart, Carrefour, or Albert Heijn are rolling out their implementations, we expect more retailers and food producers starting their own experiments with blockchain based food traceability.
Although the larger companies have most of the news headlines about blockchain based food traceability, the interest will be growing amongst smaller companies, mostly to benefit from the possibility of direct communication to the consumers.
Mobile as a gateway to consumers
While providing transparency regarding the provenance and processing of food products is important from food safety perspective, the empasis will soon be given to the GUI (graphical user interface), the visual realization of this task.
The pure presentation of traceability information will shift to telling the “story of the food” in a way which the consumers can easily absorb. Attaching photos, videos, inspection documents, nutrition data will make the journey of the food more interesting.
Marketing departments will be excited to get extra brand exposure, to start interaction with the consumers, and to collect data about them; things they rarely had the opportunity to do.
There are many areas where this connection can provide useful solutions from innovative digital labeling of nutrition facts to loyalty schemes.
Sustainability efforts of the food industry continues to matter for consumers. In 2018, 59 percent of consumers said it’s important that the foods they purchase and consume should be produced in a sustainable way, jumping up from 50 percent in 2017.
In another survey, the Johns Hopkins Center found that 9 in 10 people in the U.S. view sustainable food production as a high priority goal.
Nielsen mentioned the millenials (15–20 years old) as a Green Generation, where 72% is ready to pay more for products which are produced whith the environmental impacts in mind.
With food traceability, these efforts can be logged, and presented to the consumers.
How TE-FOOD can help
TE-FOOD is the most popular farm-to-table food traceability solution. It serves over 6000 business customers, and handles 400,000 business transactions each day. Brands like Auchan, AEON, Lotte Mart, CP Group, Japfa or CJ are using it to provide food history information to their consumers.
TE-FOOD provides all elements for supply chain companies to achieve a successful traceability implementation:
- Physical identification materials
- Tools to collect data
- Data processing tools
- Blockchain based traceability ledger
By training over 10 000 supply chain workers to use its tools, TE-FOOD gained large implementation experience.
Reach out to us for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org