Transparency in the food supply chain is no longer just a matter of ensuring efficiency and productivity. It’s a regulated, market-driven necessity that’s at the forefront of many consumers’ minds. Those who haven’t fully embraced the transparency movement have likely found consumers not only making their concerns widely-shared on social media, but editing their shopping list based on those concerns.
There’s already signs of progress throughout the supply chain as more manufacturers explore technology to help enable improved safety practices. In fact, confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply has remained consistently high since 2008, according to the International Food Information Council.
David Carter, CEO of FoodChain ID, notes that “now, more than ever, consumers want to know what’s in the food they eat.” He explains that: “Consumers are not demanding that all food be non-GMO, and we don’t take the position that this is always necessary. But what consumers are clearly demanding, more than ever, is that food be thoroughly inspected and receive the proper certifications, and that this be done by qualified professionals who ensure accurate labeling to help consumers make fully informed purchase decisions.”
Below are three of the trends driving the rise of food transparency, according to FoodChain ID:
1. The globalization of the food supply.
Our food and the ingredients in it are now sourced globally. One product can have ingredients from numerous locations. Globalization has further complicated the food supply chain and, as a result, recalls are increasing. Food production, warehousing, transportation, and supply chain technology have evolved to minimize many of these complications. But it has taken the supply chain time to identify its vulnerabilities and to get up to speed on the tools being introduced.
2. The Food Safety and Modernization Act.
On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—the most sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years. The bill aimed to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. While there’s not necessarily more recalls due to unsafe food, manufacturers are more frequently catching potential issues due to increased regulation.
3. Major shifts in consumer attitudes about their food.
Consumers want to know exactly what is in their food, which reflects the trend toward “clean labeling” by manufacturers. According to a study by the Center for Food Integrity, consumers not only want companies to be transparent about their business practices; they want transparent food product labeling and ingredients. While many consumers haven’t fully decided how they feel about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), many want the right to know if their food includes GMO ingredients.