The Grocery Manufacturers Association says its new food product labeling initiative that allows consumers to access detailed food information via their cell phones has proven to be such a success that it will be expanded.
Called SmartLabel, it is designed to allow consumers to find out not only what ingredients are included in products, but also why those ingredients are in the product, what they do, and even where they come from.
GMA says SmartLabel also can include detailed descriptions about allergens, usage instructions, information about how the product was produced, how animals were treated during the development process, or the product’s environmental impact.
Shoppers can instantaneously access all this information by simply scanning a product’s QR code using the SmartLabel app or the camera feature on a smartphone, by going to the website www.smartlabel.org, visiting the SmartLabel product’s landing page online, or calling a product’s 1-800 number to be given SmartLabel information over the phone.
“SmartLabel participation has increased significantly from 4,000 products in early 2017 to nearly 28,000 food, beverage, personal care and household products today,” says Jim Flannery, senior executive vice president of GMA.
“More products are using SmartLabel every week, and that’s why manufacturers and retailers are kicking off a campaign to make sure consumers know about SmartLabel and how it helps them get the additional information they want about the products they use and consume.”
The Food Marketing Institute recently conducted a survey that found two out of three fresh food shoppers report that health and wellness/ transparency has become more of a motivating factor when they shop than it was in the past.
When it comes to transparency, factors in order of importance to fresh food shoppers are: health and wellness, 65%; free of growth hormones, 33%; free of antibiotics, 32%; free of pesticides or fertilizers, 31%; non-GMOs or bioengineered ingredients, 30%; and non-irradiated foods, 15%.
Social Media Impact
FMI also reported that shoppers are talking more about these issues on social media and their conversations are becoming more detailed.
Specifically, the research found that social media conversations about non- GMO increased 123%, animal welfare discussions grew 231%, while fair-trade food and wages conversations increased 83% over last year.
These discussions are calling for specifics, including grass-fed, free-range/cage-free, seafood sustainability and no antibiotics ever. In addition, 44% of consumers have stated that social and cultural factors have gained importance to them over previous years.
“As I walk around the perimeter of the grocery store today, two big trends are paying off,” notes Rick Stein, vice president, fresh foods, for FMI. “One is transparency – the shopper’s desire to know more about where their food comes from and how it was made.”
He adds, “The second is social and cultural alignment, or a company’s ability to grow sales by integrating consumer motivations and values that impact sales.”
Those retailers who choose to ignore these trends will end up paying the price, he adds.
“Retailers and manufacturers are building competitive advantages by listening to the customer and developing a deeper understanding of how social media discussions can provide insights for programs, innovation and personalization.”