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As consumers’ demand rises on new added values, brands need to acquire the power to offer their clients verifiable information about their products.
Table of contents
Buying criteria diversification
Products variety has been increasing from some years now. This fact has caused that consumers evolve in their decision making. This is why variety has grown along with consumer’s awareness, and available information on food origin and the effect this could have on its properties, and even the impact that product would cause to environment.
As a consequence change has taken place around purchase criteria. Awareness dissemination and information accessibility have eased consumers to decide on those products matching their lifestyle and ideals, in addition to their nutritional needs or personal taste.
Distinction or design?
Aggressive marketing campaigns and design itself are no longer key issues to make brand differentiation. As consumers’ authority grows it becomes imperative to enlighten those extrinsic factors which are able to add value to the product.
Clients have become experts in coherent decision taking not traditional aspects into account:
- Nutritional balance and its compatibility with each kind of diet: without gluten, without lactose, no added sugar, etc.
- Products sustainability or the level of impact that it causes to the environment where it is cultured or exploited: sustainable culturing, fair trade, local products, etc.
- High processed food is being credited of degrading foodstuff properties, so low processing claims in labelling are increasing in supermarkets: Natural, no additives, traditional receipt, etc.
- Specific claims or certified attributes: Ecological, Halal, Designation of origin, etc.
Labelling: A binding agreement
For practical purposes, food labelling is a binding agreement between client and manufacturer. This means that food operators are obliged to ensure certain criteria and operational standards on compiling claims printed on labels. Those criteria and standards are determined by law, concretely in Regulatory 1169/2011 about the information provided to consumer, which is enforceable to both, packed and bulk goods, which are marketed in the EU.
Labelling basic requirements
Despite specific considerations, regulations for certain groups of foodstuff and labelling regulations can be resumed in the following principles:
- Consumers must be able to identify without any kind of doubt the foodstuff they are purchasing, and furthermore, they must be aware of the way it has to be preserved and prepared.
- Misleading labelling and claims are forbidden as far as they can lead consumers to believe that a product has properties which in fact it hasn’t.
- Labelling must include information on every allergenic substance including additives or production aids used along manufacturing.
- It is established the way that basic nutritional properties are communicated, with the aim of easing consumers make comparisons and choose a product being fully aware.
Labelling and food integrity
Food integrity is defined as the coincidence and coherence of labelling claims with true products’ features.
The lack of correlation between label claims and foodstuff issues represents a fault on that product’s integrity. This kind of failure can happen by accident or intentionally.
Independently on what the cause is, only producers can halt this phenomenon by adequate traceability means and procedures to prevent food intentional alteration.
To this respect, TRAZABLE’s blockchain platform features a friendly and efficient tool to check and validate food chain data, and prevent alteration or fraud through suitable and reliable data management.
As known food fraud cases increase, consumers’ concern is becoming greater regards food authenticity. Generally those products which enjoy specific faculties or extrinsic attributes are more expensive because clients feel willing to increase their expense.
Despite this, as intentional food alteration are boosting alarm, consumers perception is growing more concern and scepticism. Those perceptions or feelings may cause losses to food market and food operators, independently of alarm’s origin.
Food fraud relies on three principles:
- Intentionality: Fraud is always planned and intentional, it is a premeditated act against food.
- Profit: Fraud food alteration has always the purpose of further benefits from foodstuff whose receiver is the actor that attempts against food integrity.
- Loss of safety: Food can be altered by substances what may cause damage to consumers’ health but, independently on that fact, altered food hasn’t been under procedures of control and verification. To that point, foodstuff could become contaminated without noticing.
Food integrity struggle
Food integrity maintenance and battle against fraud are quite novel objectives in food safety management. Lack of integrity entails consequences that have severe effects to health and market, whether it is due to direct fraud or it’s because an error on traceability:
- Health effects could become from allergenic reactions, foodborne diseases, dangerous substances exposure or simply contaminated foodstuff.
- Social alarm, linked to consumer’s trust loss, can get to be a decisive factor for manufacturer failure or economic losses for an entire sector.
- Political and diplomatic spheres can also suffer a negative impact due to the fact that food safety crisis travel beyond frontiers easily.
Certification standards go along with food fraud prevention
Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is the body under which most valued food safety standards are supported. IFS Food v6.1, BRC Food v8 and any other certification served by GFSI scheme, consider food fraud fight among their requisites. They establish the obligation of developing food fraud vulnerability evaluation, including prime mater, ingredients and packaging’s loss of integrity.
The most recent IFS Food version, named 6.1 was approved in November of 2017. One of the most important changes among the requisites is the addition of food fraud and its prevention as compulsory requisites to food safety management systems. To be more concrete, it was stated at a new requisite numbered 4.21, included in the chapter which covers planning and production process.
British Retail Consortium, with its seventh version (2015) of BRC Food standard, placed itself at fraud prevention vanguard, implementing the term “integrity” in a vertical treatment to suppliers and materials evaluation requisites. In addition to that fact, BRC added a complete set of requisites by a new chapter numbered 5.4 to manage product authenticity and custody chain. Nowadays the auditable version isn’t number 7; it has changed to number 8 since February of 2019.
However to medium term a new version of those standards is expected under GFSI requirements modification. Global Benchmarking Requirements on its version 7.2, published in March of 2018, adds to the obligation of developing vulnerability evaluations to risk, the need to develop active measures to prevent it by mitigation plans.
Traceability and food trust
Food trust can’t exist without traceability. There is no other way to ensure that certain food is safe if it’s impossible to certify positively its ingredients precedence.
Despite this affirmation may look simple because of its logic argument, could become into a challenge to any operator, unless the best achievable technologies are employed. To this respect, TRAZABLE and its blockchain platform, can answer most of the questions about how traceability and food trust can be within reach to any food chain actor.
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