Next Gen Tech Can Boost Product Transparency and Traceability

Today’s consumers want more information at their fingertips; they want to know if the milk in their chocolate bar is organic or if the cereal they’re about to purchase contains allergens.

Consumer purchasing decisions are determined by a diverse and evolving set of drivers that go beyond the traditional considerations of taste, price and convenience to also encompass health, wellness, safety, social impact and experience.

SmartLabel QR Codes are being used by brands to deliver greater product transparency, creating a virtual window of consumer-driven information that can be accessed in real-time. Scanbuy, the leading provider of these QR Codes, has already been adopted by major companies. Scanbuy’s partnership with Kezzler, a pioneer in product serialization and tracking and tracing, will take the platform further by creating next-generation solutions that won’t require products to have two barcodes. Kezzler’s technology generates interactive codes, giving each product a digital DNA. By delivering traceability, product authentication, supply chain optimization and robust marketing insights simultaneously, the partnership is poised to transform the industry.

We have a problem: a full one third of food produced globally goes uneaten, equivalent to a billion tons of food loss annually. Not only does it undermine food security, but waste contributes to climate change and consumes vital natural resources. Food waste is also a notoriously complex subject to approach for governments, NGOs and the private sector due to the difficulties involved in monitoring supply chains and managing the consumption stage, where consumer behavior partly determines environmental impact.

Labels matter

Effective food labelling is crucial to tackle the problem. Systems reliant on multiple dates — such as “use by,” “sell by,” “display until” and “best before” — cause unnecessary confusion for consumers. This results in perfectly edible food being discarded. In the United States alone, this can lead to around $29 billion being lost every year. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) recently issued a Call to Action, calling on members to standardize food labels across the world by 2020 to help improve clarity for consumers and reduce food waste.

Measurement and traceability checks are also crucial. Governments and businesses need to monitor the amount of food wasted and identify points in supply chains where it is taking place. The CGF has been at the forefront of initiatives to improve measurement processes and traceability; it was part of the World Resources Institute Steering Committee responsible for the Food Loss and Waste Standard, providing businesses throughout the entire food value chain with an effective measurement toolkit.

Collaborative solutions

However, in developed economies, waste tends to take place at the consumption stage, meaning that public awareness campaigns should be prioritized. The CGF’s Call to Action on food labelling emphasized the importance of launching public awareness campaigns alongside food label standardization.

Most importantly, collective action is crucial. Governments, NGOs and the private sector must collaborate in identifying the root causes of food waste. Through a mixture of food labelling standardization, public awareness campaigns and accurate measurement, we can successfully tackle the problem. One thing is for sure, positive change needs to happen now.