According to a recent study by Label Insight/Food Marketing Institute/Hartman Group, three out of four consumers (up from 39% in 2016) claimed last year that they would be willing to switch brands if another offered them more in-depth product information beyond the label.
Today's informed, health- and sustainability-conscious consumers are demanding more transparency across the entire supply chain. But the problem is that, at the same time, the average consumer is very far removed from modern food supply chains. For example, 38% of children think cows consume milk rather than produce it! How would consumers react knowing how long and far food travels or how many hand-off points and third-parties are involved in the entire product process?
It is crucial to provide data that is meaningful and provides value to your consumers. But what kind of data points are we talking about here? Today, I want to explore a few that our clients have found extremely useful in the past:
Source of Origin
With complex supply chains, 15-30 different hand-off points, and blurry lines of responsibilities, the opportunities are plenty to swap cheaper ingredients for higher-value ones. For example, your chances of actually getting real Extra Virgin Olive Oil are 26% when paying for a product claiming to be such. But consumers, who are now willing to pay a premium for "cleaner", healthier food, want proof. For that, consumers will need to be able to trace a product back to its source without a doubt.
Smart Labeling Indicating Spoilage Factors
Food waste is a huge problem. In fact, the earth's population is expected to increase by 34% to 9.1bn by 2050, requiring a 70% increase in food production. Yet, we already throw away one third (40% in the United States) of the food produced. So, if we solve the food waste problem, we have to produce less food to feed the increasing population.
Most food waste occurs within the home. 60% of household food waste arises from people not consuming edible goods in time. But consumers also don't understand that spoilage is a process rather than an exact event that occurs on the "Sell By" or "Best Before" date. By adding smart labeling to food packaging, confusing and often arbitrary situations could be avoided — together with a lot of waste.
Product Integrity & Food Safety Information
One of THE most useful data points to include by far is verifiable information about food safety. For example, I would want to know if my chicken that I am about to consume was on a pallet of raw chicken that was stored in a malfunctioning cooler where the potential for pathogens and bacteria to grow exponentially increases.
By adding Internet-of-Things enabled smart sensors that constantly monitor the environmental conditions of your products before submitting the data into the blockchain, you can create a huge competitive advantage!
Carbon Emissions & Other Environmental Factors
While environmental factors, such as carbon emissions, water usage, and waste created to produce a certain product, aren't yet purchase decision factors that are as important as price or taste, they are becoming increasingly relevant for younger generations.
In fact, 69% of consumers want retailers to be more transparent about their sustainability efforts, according to the above mentioned Label Insight/Food Marketing Institute/Hartman Group study.
While blockchain can enable you to make this information readily available, you can use Internet-of-Things enabled smart sensors to accurately track carbon emissions created through transport.
On great example on how this information can be displayed, although not from the food industry, is from the company TenTrees. The sustainable clothing company compared the amount of water used, CO2e emitted, and waste created per product to a conventially produced product, giving consumers actionable information.
Buying local is important to not only environmentally conscious customers, but to the general shopper — for various reasons. However, most people would be shocked to know that the average American food travels between 1,500-2,500 miles.
If your consumers are looking for local food, you could precisely track the exact number of miles a particular crate of romaine lettuce traveled before it reached the store shelves. Armed with this kind of information, you can run extremely successful "local foods" campaigns right in-store because the data is available on the blockchain — whether you have a smart display or a QR code that consumers can scan.
These are just five examples of valuable and sensible data points generated by the blockchain and Internet-enabled smart sensors. Which information you share with your consumers greatly depends on the information needs of your primary target persona, the type of product you sell, and which market you are operating in. Remember, one size does not fit all, and the information you give needs to match the questions your customers have.