- Label Insight, a product data company, has received an additional $21 million in new funding, according to a company release. The new cash infusion brings the Chicago-based firm’s total funding to roughly $35 million.
- This new investment will allow Label Insight to hire an additional 55 employees for their Chicago and St. Louis offices in the next year, with a focus on data science teams, as well as sales and marketing. The company, which works with brands like Unilever, Conagra and Ocean Spray, has a database with information on more than 400,000 products.
- "The food industry is undergoing a revolution with consumers increasingly interested in understanding food and cosmetic ingredients and information on the sourcing of these ingredients," David Schaller managing soon-to-be Label Insight board member, said in the release. "Insight's unique data-as-a-service capability delivers significant value to the CPG industry by helping brands and retailers transform their businesses to be more transparent, while enabling government agencies and academic institutions to better understand and measure the impact of food products and ingredients on our population."
As consumers demand more transparency in food products, companies like Label Insight work to shed light on the ingredients that food and beverage products contain. According to a recent study from Response Media, almost all consumers find transparency important in food products — 99% for fresh food and 98% for packaged food — and 70% of shoppers their purchases are always or often influenced by transparency content.
Label Insight helps consumers learn more about the products they’re buying. The research company collects information like nutritional value, possible allergens and marketing claims, and gives that data to retailers or CPG manufacturers. The company currently has over 400,000 products in its database, each with more than 22,000 unique attributes. Label Insight CEO Paul Schaut told the Chicago Tribune that Label Insight also plans on building its database to 1 million items with the new funding.
This new $21 million investment in Label Insight is a clear vote of confidence in not only the company, but also the staying power of consumer’s curiosity when it comes to the products they buy.
Label Insight also appears to be the go-to data solutions company for brands interested in using SmartLabel. In February this year, Albertsons, ConAgra, Reily Foods, and King's Hawaiian all announced partnerships with Label Insight to spearhead their transparency initiatives via SmartLabel.
There are no dominant competitors right now for the service Label Insight provides, but that will likely change as demand for transparency increases.
Label Insight sidesteps some of the common criticisms of SmartLabel by providing information to retailers and manufacturers, as opposed to just attaching it to a QR code on a label. Some in the food and beverage industry have said these codes discriminate against consumers without smart phones. However, those consumers can now just ask a grocery rep for the information they want, thanks to Label Insight.
Label Insight’s core concept is also one that can evolve along with consumer demands. If a manufacturer wants to share more about where they source their ingredients, or how they’re reducing their carbon footprint, the data company can accommodate their needs. The perk of this technology is that unlike the physical packaging on a product, there is really no limit to the amount of information that can be shared.
Manufacturers don’t necessarily need to hire Label Insight or create a SmartLabel to stay relevant, but they do need to clearly express to the public who their company is and what their product stands for. This could be as simple as a blurb on a package label, or as extensive as an independent website. The key is investing in transparency, no matter which technology gets them there.