Consumers demand for greater transparency in food labelling intensifies amid covid-19 pandemic

GLOBAL – Transparency is emerging as one of the top trends for 2021 as more and more consumers become increasingly concerned about the composition of the foods they get off supermarket shelves.

An Innova Consumer Survey indicates that 85 percent of consumers globally say information on what is in their food is of major importance to them.

Similarly, 59 percent want to know where their food comes from and how it is made.

According to the survey, interest in transparency was found to be highest in emerging markets, most likely because transparency is already more advanced in developed countries.

The researchers further note that access to information through social media and online is increasing in emerging markets, further driving demand for transparency.

The COVID-19 crisis also appears to have intensified consumer interest in transparency and responsible production, and this is likely to persist going forward.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have retained an affinity with brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate.

Clean label expands its scope

As demand for transparency continues grow, consumers also attached great importance to clean label claims which is also evolving to encompasses areas beyond the product itself into the ethical and environmental factors surrounding production.

“We see claims related to human and animal welfare and increased focus on supply chain transparency and plant-powered nutrition as well as sustainable sourcing,” details Innova.

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Additionally, there has been a shift in focus from claims covering health aspects such as natural, organic, additive-free and nothing artificial, into areas such as GMO-free and minimally processed.

Industry is also seeing more interest in real and recognizable, shorter ingredients lists as well as dairy and meat alternatives while fat, salt and sugar reduction remain important.

Technology: a key enabler of transparency

The research also underscored the importance of technology in improving transparency.

According to Innova, 50 percent of consumers say that they are at least somewhat likely to check a QR code if it appears on pack, allowing suppliers to deliver farm-to-fork traceability in this way.

Blockchain also continues to take this ambition further, functioning as an “immutable” supply chain record.

The technology has aided suppliers in tracking expansive food chains, including individual animals in a livestock herd, rainforest-positive coffee and sandwich ingredients.

Another central part of Transparency is third party verification schemes which provide confidence that the claims contained in the packaging are verified and true.

“Looking ahead, climate neutral schemes could make a bigger impact, while a new logo for upcycled foods is also likely to bring the idea of tackling food waste to the fore,” says Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights.

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