- Hershey is the first brand to adopt a new labeling standard, known as the SmartLabel, recently introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The label will be scannable by smartphones without the need for a specialized app.
- "Starting in 2016, you'll see branded products with a smartphone-readable QR code printed on the packaging that will link consumers to websites containing far more information than could ever fit on a product's packaging — consumers will be able to search or scan for detailed and consistent information about nutrition, ingredients, allergens, GMOs, product usage, advisories and brand information," according to Sustainable Brands.
- The SmartLabel will be included on packaging for the Hershey's Holiday Kisses chocolates that are currently arriving in stores. Close to 90 other companies have also signed on, so the SmartLabel will be visible on more brands by mid-2016.
"The relationship between people and their food has changed dramatically over the past few decades," Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey, told Sustainable Brands. "We are very proud to have led the way in creating a SmartLabel QR code that can be adopted nationwide to help protect consumers by eliminating a confusing and impractical patchwork of package labels and state-by-state labeling laws."
The SmartLabel offers companies a way to communicate a wide range of information to consumers without being limited by the small space allotted by a product's packaging. This program could be a step forward for food companies that are looking for new ways to increase transparency.
The SmartLabel program is voluntary, but John Bilbrey, CEO of the Hershey Company and GMA’s chairman, said in an AGree post that he believes the initiative will put pressure on companies to be complete in the information they disclose.