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November 20, 2018

What’s on Your Table This Thanksgiving?

Chad Cosper, VP, Corporate Development at Amplifi

Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving. While we are all enjoying quality time with our family and friends, we will also be eating (likely) copious amounts of food, which leads to an important question:

Do you Know What is in Your Food?

Do you watch what you and your family eat? Maybe you count calories and enter them into a fitness or wellness tracker along with your workouts.  Perhaps you have tried, or are abiding by, specialized diets like Keto or Paleo. Maybe you are simply interested in knowing what’s in your food – or even where it was sourced.

My wife and I started what we call a “predominantly Paleo” diet a little more than a year ago, and currently, we are undertaking our second month of the Whole30 “diet” during that time.  (I used quotation marks because Whole30 is not meant to be a weight loss diet; rather, it is designed to provide insight into what foods might potentially be affecting us negatively.  For me, I have learned that rice, beans, and, especially, dairy are triggers that affect me adversely in one way or another.)

Whole30 requires that, for 30 days, you abstain from eating processed foods, rice, legumes, wheat or gluten, corn, alcohol, and any food items that contain added sugars or other sweeteners like maple syrup or honey. Frankly, it’s not as difficult as it may seem, but it does require a lot of research, planning, and, yes, inspection of food labels. During our first round of Whole30 last year, we were astounded to learn how many of the everyday products we traditionally purchased, like canned tomatoes, salad dressing, and even chicken broth contained added sugar or flour produced from wheat, rice, or corn.

Needless to say, the diet requires a LOT of food label/menu inspection and interrogation.

Increases in Ingredient and Nutritional Transparency

Whether consumers are on a strict diet, wanting to ensure their food doesn’t contain antibiotics or GMO ingredients, worried about potential contamination or allergic reaction, or simply interested in clean eating, the trend towards a demand for transparency is clear. Consider this brief from Food Dive:

  • A new report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) revealed that shoppers are increasingly demanding transparency and a closer connection to their food — so much so that 75% say they’ll switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. When shoppers were asked the same question in 2016, just 39% agreed they would switch brands.
  • The report noted that among the 47% of American households that have someone following a diet or health program, 61% say they’re willing to pay more for products with in-depth product information and 89% said they’ll switch to a new product if they’re not satisfied with the information that’s there.
  • Twenty-six percent of consumers surveyed said they had shopped for groceries online in the past thirty days. Among these, 76% said they expect to see more product information when shopping online than in-store.

Improving Food Label Transparency

Accurate Labeling and Marketing – This seems like a no-brainer, but, if you read studies like the one referenced earlier, you will discover that not long ago consumers were not reading ingredient listings as closely as they are now. Each product a brand sells must contain the most up-to-date and exhaustive list of ingredients, and be careful about packaging claims. Lawsuits from consumers and watchdog groups over labeling inconsistencies have grown more than 25% in the last ten years (from 19 active cases in 2008 to more than 425.) And, many of these lawsuits can be high profile with lawsuits over ingredient claims, the use of terms like “organic,” “natural,” and “hand-made,” reaching national audiences – further convincing buyers to double-check labels before a purchase.

Enhanced Product Content – As the study referenced earlier shows, just like with other industries, more and more consumers are either buying their food products online or are using web and mobile sites to learn more about food products while they are in the grocery store. They expect to find details about the product online that may not fit on the packaging.  This obviously goes beyond nutritional and ingredients information but may include more detailed information about how and where the product was made, from where key ingredients were sourced, cooking advice and recipe ideas, and where to find the product locally or online.

Globalization / Localization – For multi-national brands, labels must be localized to each distinct geographic area in which the product is sold.  This definitely includes language requirements in labeling (for instance, in Canada, food labels must be in English and French), but goes far beyond mere translation. Often, due to both local regulations and consumer preference, the same name brand box of cereal sold in many different countries on several continents will likely have different recipes for one or more geographic locations. These recipes should be maintained in a central location with strict workflows to authorize changes to packaging that will be available to consumers worldwide.

Data Publication & Syndication – Whether the food product is being manufactured by a large, global brand or a regional/local company, the consumer will demand the information they find about each food product is the same across packaging, web and mobile channels, and in-store displays or store flyers. This requires that content authored about the product is published to each of these consuming channels in a consistent and efficient manner. And, it requires that trading partners can easily receive and use that information either through syndication or other methods.

Product Information Management (PIM) technologies, combined with the appropriate Data Governance processes, helps brands address each of these areas, allowing companies to produce product content that generates trust – and therefore higher sales and brand loyalty – amongst today’s savvy and observant consumers.

Contact us to learn more about how Amplifi works with major food brands to increase trust in enterprise product content.