Building trust in food is complex
BUILDING trust in food is a complex problem, especially for consumers constantly reading about the mishaps of companies they previously trusted, writes Gennady Volcheck, CEO and founder of Shping, a supply chain solutions company.
With the Capilano fake honey scandal making headlines, food fraud is top of mind and leaving consumers uneasy about their trust in and loyalty to brands.
To clarify the difference, fake food is when the content of the product does not match the label. For example, 100 per cent honey that is in fact not pure honey.
Counterfeiting, however, is when consumers are misled about the brand of a product. For example, benefiting from an expensive brand name, such as Penfolds, by putting its label on a cheap product that is not truly affiliated with the brand.
Addressing the problem of food fraud is the responsibility of the producer and needs to start at the very beginning—with the supply chain. Full visibility of the supply chain ensures food companies know where their products come from and how they’re getting into consumers’ hands.
The need for transparency in supply chain management is at the heart of both of these issues, however, they require two separate executions.
For counterfeiting, traceability is essential. With counterfeit products costing one in three brands more than 10 per cent in sales, a track and trace solution using serialisation can be key to combating this problem. GS1, a not-for-profit industry organisation, has developed standards for farm to fork traceability.
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By implementing this end-to-end traceability, GS1 has enabled organisations such as my company Shping to use these standards, allowing food companies, retailers and even consumers to see where a product was produced, which ingredients were used, and the product journey—all the way from the farm to the store.
Shping helps food companies build a strong, reputable brand through product recall management, counterfeit protection and grey import protection services.
For fake food, companies still need traceability, however, this should, if possible, be combined with independent testing.
While independent lab testing can certainly identify if a product is fake, the reality is something could happen in the supply chain to compromise a product. To combat this, it’s important that brands be continually subject to tests and remain transparent throughout the whole process.
To implement this would require substantial effort from brands and other stakeholders, such as distributors and retailers. If the industry could demand this from brands, shopping would be safer for everyone. Otherwise, only brands who want to be at the front foot will be doing this.
Building a trusted, reputable brand means investing in an effective supply chain management system. The only way food companies can stop food fraud incidents, like the Capilano incident, from recurring is to build traceability and transparency into their supply chain. Only then will food companies gain consumers’ trust and loyalty.