Food Traceability

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Note from the editor

Consumers today want to know much more about their food. They're interested in how it's made, but they also want to know more about how it got from the farm to the factory to the grocery store to their plates. And companies are responding to this need. According to Statista, the global food traceability market is predicted to be worth more than $16 billion by 2022.

Many different companies are working to improve traceability of food products and ingredients. They're using new technologies and different systems so consumers can easily know the backstory of products they are about to eat.

Manufacturers and retailers benefit from this kind of information as well. They can easily find out if a product may be contaminated based on where it was grown or sourced. They can determine if a commonly faked product is the real thing. They can find out the time it took for a product to get to the comsumer and if there are any problems in the supply chain. And they can pinpoint the source of consumers' favorite ingredients in order to keep using them. 

Studies show how important traceability and transparency are to consumers, with 75% of them saying they will switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, according to Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute. Companies like SafeTraces are investing in technology to bring extremely specific traceability systems for food and ingredients. And and FlavorWiki have even come together to add a traceability aspect to feedback on how food tastes — allowing clients to know how their products taste throughout production and along the supply chain. Ingredients company Olam invested in technology that provides manufacturers with deep information about where products come from and sustainability practices. Traceability is an important aspect in food safety, as shown by recent recalls of romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli. And initiatives like SmartLabel from the Consumer Brands Association — previously known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association — give food manufacturers an easy way to provide more information to consumers.

This report details several aspects of the food traceability trend:

  • How manufacturers and retailers should respond to consumers' mounting interest in traceability
  • SafeTraces' unique traceability technology
  • How the partnership between and FlavorWiki can help manufacturers produce better products
  • What Olam's traceability technology does for manufacturers and consumers
  • How traceability can play a role in produce outbreaks
  • Potential of SmartLabel to provide the traceability information consumers want

We hope you enjoy this deep dive into traceability.

Megan Poinski Senior Reporter

Report: Consumers want increased transparency from retailers and brands

According to the Food Marketing Institute and Label Insight, 75% of consumers say they're willing to switch to products that provide in-depth information beyond what's on packaging.

• Published Sept. 21, 2018

Thinking outside the box: How SafeTraces tracks food, not packages

The traceability startup uses DNA to track and identify items ranging from apples to oils. It is working with UL and JBT FoodTech to expand its reach.

• Published Aug. 5, 2019

Partnership establishes the blockchain of taste

• Published April 4, 2019

How Olam is adapting to big trends in the ingredients industry

The global spice company launched two new programs in 2018 to expand digital accessibility and help its customers meet their sustainability targets.

• Published April 11, 2019

It's not easy being green: Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak rattles food, grocery industries

The FDA's decision to request that the popular green gets pulled from shelves sent "a strong message" to the produce sector while costing supermarkets millions of dollars.

• Published Dec. 10, 2018

Has SmartLabel measured up to its potential in its first 3 years?

More than 36,000 products utilized the Grocery Manufacturers Association's transparency system at the end of 2018.

• Published Dec. 4, 2018