Today's food-savvy consumer requires more information about the origin of their food, the production process, and the business's care to ensure sustainability. Though it is common to see food manufacturers invest in technology to improve supply chain transparency, many companies are just starting to realize the dual-value of these technology investments. Consumers want transparency into their food, which often equates to a desire for transparency into the company as well. For many consumers, supply chain transparency relates to accountability, and accountability increases trust and brand loyalty. Extend your investment in supply chain transparency to your customers, strengthen your brand, and drive revenue for your bottom line.
According to a recent study by the Center for Food Integrity, 44% of consumers distrust the food manufacturing industry. The good news is that 64% of consumers showed interest in learning more about the food they consume daily. It isn't enough to know what you are eating, consumers want to understand how it was made, by whom, and even the intention behind why. Transparency lends a sense of trust, encouraging a consumer to want to invest in learning more. That small investment by the customer (even a simple effort to scan a QR code or Google a company website) can establish a sense of ownership and allow the consumer to begin identifying with your brand.
To achieve this type of consumer response, your products' safety and quality must be understood and verified. Technology investments must provide visibility into the data about their suppliers, locations, and the ingredients produced at each facility. The associated documentation should be digitized, and communication and collaboration should be tracked. Business insight should drive process improvement, and everything should be immediately auditable from a compliance standpoint.
Here are three areas in which your company can leverage its investment in technology to improve transparency within your customer base.
1 - Put Your Best Foot Forward
The primary information source for your product is the label. You'll want to ensure you take a proactive approach to list the appropriate information for your items. Products that include label claims, allergens, and sustainability measures are essential, and consumers expect to be able to receive additional information if they decide to investigate on their own further.
It is also essential to define the boundaries from which you've developed your product. These can include allergens, antibiotics, GMOs, or other ingredients you may want to disassociate from for one reason or another. These boundaries will further define the purpose of your product and allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Label real estate is usually quite limited, so be sure to include only what is necessary. In the end, customers will appreciate the transparency.
2 - Bring Customers Behind the Scenes
Many customers will be interested in how your food product was made. You took great care to manufacture the product, so it should come as no surprise that your customers would likely find these processes interesting as well. Providing this type of insight into your production, quality assurance, and safety practices can raise awareness and trust for the end-user. Being able to see the standards, measures, and procedures used by the organization to achieve a specific level of compliance will provide evidence of traceability. A simple and effective way to communicate these efforts is through a short-form video posted on social media. A short tour of your facility, a quick overview of your processes, and some simple quotes by your leadership team members can create a sense of purpose and mission that customers can get behind.
3 - Focus on Relationships
There is a transitive quality to hard work and dedication to a craft. If you want to create a reputation for your brand that you source ingredients from local, organic suppliers, you have to use local, organic suppliers to source your ingredients. This is a win-win-win scenario, as added transparency into your supply chain will quickly establish new relationships between your suppliers and your customers.
Promote the fact that your suppliers carry out appropriate quality assurance procedures and testing measures. Speak to how they comply with all federal and local regulations such as the various Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules and employ Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). It is essential to convey a shared vision or mission for the customer. Show your customers you are responsible for ensuring the quality and consistency of the ingredients you use and that you are working together with your suppliers to create safe and meaningful products.
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Food manufacturers should be proud of their customers, products, processes, and employees, and the right investment in technology will serve the needs of each for many years to come.
TraceGains helps food, supplement, and CPG manufacturers comply with any independent or regulatory standard. Even better, TraceGains digitizes and automates business processes for a secure and transparent supply chain, learn more about the TraceGains Product Suite here.