Identifying Ways to Bridge the Trust Gap Between Consumer Confidence and Information
The food safety supply chain is an increasingly important concern for consumers, who are worried about the risk of illness or allergic reactions caused by their food. Consumers want information about the source, the quality and the safeguards in place to protect the products they consume. This information is a differentiating factor for companies throughout the supply chain as well, as consumers don’t believe they’re currently sufficiently informed.
Recently, Zebra Technologies revealed the results of its Vision Study Report on technology and the food safety supply chain. The study measured both industry and public perception regarding safety, traceability and transparency of the food supply chain. Nearly 5,000 consumers—representing adults across several age groups and genders—and 462 food and beverage industry decision-makers across manufacturing, transportation and logistics, wholesale/distribution and retail were surveyed for the study. The pool of respondents were pulled from 15 different countries from North and South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
The findings uncovered a gap between how well the industry believes it is providing transparent data on the safety of food and beverage products, and consumers’ lack of trust in that same process. Among the key data points in the extensive report were:
- 70% of consumers say information on how food in manufactured, prepared and handled is important
- Only 20% of consumers place complete trust in companies and brands to ensure food safety vs. 37% for industry decision makers
- 69% of decision-makers say the industry is prepared to manage food traceability, but only 35% of consumers agree
There is a vested interest on both sides—consumers obviously want to avoid foodborne illness and companies desperately want to avoid costly food recalls, for instance—to improve the food safety supply chain in terms of both traceability and transparency. Technology is seen as a solution to deliver on both fronts to generate greater consumer trust while also improving business operations.
Why Bridging the Gap in Perception is Important
In the food and beverage industry, consumer demand for fast availability, lower prices and expanded choice leads to additional pressure to maximize production levels—ultimately pushing manufacturing systems, delivery and logistics to their limits. It is here when the principles of the food safety supply chain can be compromised. The cost of such compromises can be steep.
Businesses connected to food safety incidents may be forced to stop trading or barred from selling their products for a period of time. That’s on top of any cost incurred to deal with the immediate fallout of such an incident. Combined, this can be a devastating financial hit.
High-profile incidents can damage the brand for years to come and discourage consumers from future purchases. In today’s social media fueled landscape, bad publicity can spread worldwide quickly.
Potential lawsuits can result from consumers who have been injured or harmed in some way from lack of proper food safety. Authorities can also investigate if there is concern that food safety laws were broken or ignored.
Repeat incidents, or a substantial single event, can lead to changes in regulations that affect how food safety supply chain companies operate long-term, with economic and practical consequences.
If associated with bad food safety, businesses may find former partners distancing themselves from continuing to work with them in order to protect themselves. This can be a major disruption while alternative and willing partners are found.
From distribution and warehouses to grocery stores, quick-serve and full-service restaurants, the industry at-large knows food safety management can be improved and more must be done to continue to win consumer trust in the process. Industry decision-makers know that consumers expect them to take the lead. In fact, Zebra discovered that 82% of consumers believe the industry has an ethical responsibility to ensure food safety and 83% believe the industry has an important role to play in improving food safety and traceability.
So, how can leaders and decision-makers in the food and beverage industry meet these expectations?
Technology is Seen as a Path Forward
Food and beverage industry decision-makers are leaning into technological solutions to address customers’ concerns. From the study, 93% of decision-makers said they plan to increase investment in food monitoring as a way to improve information flow to consumers. They want to know where their food comes from, and technology is seen as the way to improve the transparency and traceability.
Industry decision-makers believe RFID tags are the most promising path to better food traceability, with 41% identifying that technology as the most important moving forward. But only 31% currently use them within their own organizations, leaving an opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to gain an advantage by adopting RFID technology before their competitors do.
Currently, the top three technologies for improving food traceability include rugged handheld mobile computers with scanners, mobile barcode labels and thermal printers, and rugged barcode scanners. Each is used by roughly 38% of all companies in the space currently, but adoption rates are expected to reach 90% within the next five years.
Technology that aids traceability doesn’t just benefit consumers by making them more informed. It also benefits businesses throughout the supply chain through greater efficiency, improved consumer confidence and a strong return on investment. This is driving a strong uptick in decision-makers wanting to lead the way by deploying these technologies.
Trust TRG to Implement Food Safety Supply Chain Solutions
At TRG, we’re committed to "Making Technology Simple” within enterprise mobility, point of sale and payment processing solutions. With the industry’s most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services, our hospitality and restaurant solutions help overcome your challenges in food safety, inventory management, payments, ordering and staff communication. All are designed to improve the customer experience, increase your operational efficiency and accelerate the delivery of goods and services.
When you work with TRG, you gain the services of the one provider with a global reach capable of providing solutions for everything dealing with mobile technology. We’re aligned with qualified suppliers like Zebra—which builds enterprise-level data capture and automatic identification solutions—to give you options no matter the goal or application.
TRG will help you evaluate alternatives, develop project plans and execute technology transformations. Once a solution is decided upon, our single-source deployment solutions will handle staging, kitting and configuration to simplify technology rollouts. Once your solution is up and running, TRG will ensure it stays that way with comprehensive managed services for the repair, maintenance and logistical support that eliminate downtime.
Connect with TRG to learn more about food safety supply chain technology solutions and how we can help you improve operational efficiency and build consumer confidence.