First it was the pink goop. Then the horse meat. Next, azodicarbonamide. Thanks to the growing savviness of consumers, and non-stop media attention around the ingredients and processes used by food and consumer goods companies in manufacturing, companies are facing increased pressure to explain where their products originated, how they were made and what ingredients are inside. If news hits, for example, that a company is sourcing lettuce from unsound farms with unhealthy sanitary practices, it causes a deterrence away from that company.
Dirty lettuce = no sales = no profit = unhappy shareholders = bad for business.
School lunch mystery meat a thing of the past
Until recently, companies disclosed ingredients around their products but most consumers never paid much attention. With increased education around food safety and more awareness around manufacturing practices, however, the pendulum has swung. Consumers are faced with greater decisions about where to buy products and with more information at their fingertips, these choices are becoming more complex. Companies are now on the hook to provide as much information as possible about their products in order to retain market share.
What is meant by ‘supply chain transparency’?
Supply chain transparency is when companies provide information to end consumers around the social, humanitarian, environmental and health conditions throughout the chain of custody of each product. From farm or factory to table, products take multiple trips for processing, packaging, consolidating, testing and improving. Companies responsible for getting their product to your home may not directly participate in unsound practices, but because they purchase from an entity that either grows, processes, packages or ships the end product, ultimately they are to blame. This burden of proof is encouraging companies to capture more information on the practices, both good and bad, across their supply chain(s).
Why should you care?
The trend towards greater transparency and communication is critical. Traditionally the environmentalists were the ones that cared about how their food was grown, where their products came from and what their companies were doing with their profit. Nowadays, access is equally divided between processed foods and inexpensive consumer products, and all-natural, safely grown and manufactured whole foods and sound products. There remains a cost divide, although that is slowly closing. The more consumers recognize where their dollars go, the more they will allocate budgets to products that are made from the safest ingredients, by the best treated employees and in facilities that are as healthy as possible. Ultimately as more consumers push for greater transparency from the companies filling our stores, the better, healthier and more cost-effective our products will be. That means greater prosperity for our populations and a better future for our families.