Food traceability on blockchain gains a momentum in the media as a potential tool for transparency in the food industry. A growing number of food companies are experimenting with the new technology to provide information about the provenance and processing methods for consumers.

To understand this momentum, you need to know how we got here.

How consumer trust was lost

Following the media, someone could think that the number of outbreaks and food frauds have been growing during the recent years.

Thanks to the technology advancements, cheaper and more accurate inspection technologies reveal more cases of contamination than earlier.

At the same time, emotional headlines in the news, and the ability to share the news quickly through social media, resulted that more and more people notice food scandals.

Looking at these trends, many consumers started to believe that the state of food safety becomes worse each year. The common dissatisfaction grows, which puts a growing pressure on food companies and authorities.

This trend can be seen in survey results as well. Now three consumers from four are willing to change to a brand which provides more information.

These tendencies led to the 2018 IFIC Report, which listed food traceability as one of the top five food trends in 2019.

“People are interested not only in what they’re eating, but the background on the company that manufactured it, how the plants and animals that went into it were raised, and the story of the food product and its founders.” –FoodDive

How can traceability help to restore the trust?

When you implement farm-to-table traceability,

  • You let your supply chain to log their activities in relation of the products/ingredients supplied to you, and
  • you allow your consumers to view these activities.


By doing this, you ensure consumers that you believe in transparency.

On a technical level, to store the traceability data you can use

    1. centralized databases, or
    2. blockchain.


Using blockchain is a new, and popular technology to implement food traceability. As blockchain is an unmodifiable, incorruptible ledger technology, it provides credibility to the claims you make about your products.

What should you show to consumers?

When you implement food traceability, you display serialized QR codes on your products. When consumers scan those QR codes with their mobile phones, they see the events from the history of that exact product instance they hold in their hands.

They see activities in a chronological order which can cover

  • activities on the farms
  • transports
  • quality inspection results
  • processing information
  • packaging information
 

Story of the product

While traceability data is important to display, to engage consumers, you need to present it in a visually appealing way:

  • Photos and videos about the supply chain events (e.g. harvest, packaging, etc.)
  • Introducing suppliers
  • Explaining processes
  • Publicating quality inspection results and certifications

Engagement

Visitors of the traceability landing page are qualified leads. They are conscious shoppers, smartphone users, and they are actively interested in your product.

You can use several ways to engage with them through the product history landing page:

Survey
Loyalty
Event

What should be the main message?

A 2017 study by Response Media asked consumers about their food traceability preferences.

Nine out of ten wanted to see transparency in

  • ingredients and their sources,
  • production and manufacturing processes,
  • shipping and handling, and
  • sustainability efforts of the food companies

There are two main concepts which resonate well with blockchain based traceability, and can form the brand image:

Transparency

  • Provide proof about the provenance of food, the steps during processing, the quality inspections
  • Show the quality control certifications your suppliers comply with (especially in case of organic, or non-GMO farms)
  • Explain that by buying traceable food, consumers can be notified in case of food recalls, which adds another line of defense
  • Display the nutrition content of the food with interactive, personalized data (e.g. with gender/weight selection).
 

Sustainability

  • Provide proof of the sustaibility achievements in the food processing, packaging
  • Explain what steps were made towards sustainable energy and water consumption in the processes.
  • Show animal welfare certifications, or audits regarding child labor of your suppliers.
  • Explain how traceability leads to reduced food waste through optimized sourcing of the products.

Which target groups are preferred?

To put food traceability into the focus of a marketing campaign, you need to know the most relevant target segments.

According to a 2017 study by Response Media, nearly all consumer segments find transparency in food and beverage important, and most of them responded that they would pay more for more transparent products. A particularly interested group was millennial moms, from which 100% said they would pay more.

Two years earlier, Nielsen measured 75% of Millenials, and 51% of Baby Boomers are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. As millenial spending will represent 30% of total retail sales by 2020, the trend is clear.

LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) is another consumer segment quickly growing in importance for traceability projects, as they are devoted to sustainable consumption. They prefer organic and locally grown food, sustainable production, and fair trade products. A food traceability program is an ideal way to prove how these initiatives are implemented in practice.

While LOHAS being the main target segment, other groups according to the Sustainability Segmentation Model, like Naturalites and Drifters are also possible targets, but require more complex product presentation.

Traceability gives you the opportunity to explain how your sustanability initiatives are affecting your real world products.

 

Do you want to run a pilot?

TE-FOOD Lite is an entry level traceability solution, which can be implemented in days to trial traceability at your organization.