- Between half and nearly two-thirds of consumers strongly agree that transparency builds trust with food companies in terms of six different areas of business, from food safety to environmental stewardship, according to new research from The Center for Food Integrity, being presented this week at the 2015 Food Integrity Summit in New Orleans.
- Out of all of the primary entities in the food industry, including food companies, farmers, grocery stores, and restaurants, consumers hold food companies most responsible for transparency, whether that's for food products' impact on health or the treatment of animals raised for food.
- After compiling its transparency research, CFI developed a transparency index that companies and organizations can reference to improve the ways they demonstrate transparency.
While developing the index, CFI beta tested it on a number of major food companies, including Campbell's Soup, ConAgra Foods, Hershey, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods, and categorized strengths and opportunities for transparency based on consumers' greatest concerns and the efforts those companies were already making. CFI will continue to refine its index based on further research and case studies to design a viable tool that can help food companies identify the wisest investments as they embrace greater transparency with consumers.
Most important to consumers in terms of transparency were a company's practices, or what companies are doing to improve transparency right now, as well as a company's transparency policies. Consumers also expressed a desire for engagement with companies by being able to ask questions and receive straight answers in a timely manner.
Another tool in the industry's shift toward better transparency could be the SmartLabel recently introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The label is debuting on Hershey's holiday Kisses, which are now devoid of artificial flavors. The SmartLabel is a scannable QR code that provides additional information about ingredients, nutrition facts, allergens, and other relevant details about a product to the consumer.