Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019 - 55

Trust and transparency can move consumers

Businesses aren't the only ones seeking
reliable information about food sources. In a
2018 survey by the Canadian Centre for Food
Integrity (CCFI), 23 per cent of consumers
said the food system is on the wrong track.
Concerns range from costs to safety to humane
treatment of animals.
The survey asked Canadians to rate how
different segments of the food system fare in
providing open and transparent information
about food, enabling informed choices. Most
respondents had neutral feelings. The groups
with the highest negative ratings: restaurants,
food processors/manufacturers, and government agencies.
The CCFI noted that "While there are many
great efforts to be transparent and share the story of food in Canada, the collective impact is not
being perceived as enough or reaching consumers yet." The organization said the continued
success of the food system depends largely on
public trust. "The investment in this area," they
said, "should be considered a core commitment
to a business risk and opportunity."
Crystal Mackay, CCFI's President, added
that "It's up to the entire food chain to turn up
the volume and efforts to openly share information with consumers about food and how it's
produced, processed and packaged."
The data gleaned from traceability systems
can support that type of dissemination at the
consumer level.
"If you're able to offer that granular information, and people want it, you can win a lot of trust,"
says Dana McCauley, Associate Director, New
Venture Creation, University of Guelph.
And you can win business, too.
She says information about the
provenance and pedigree of food
supports story-based marketing.
That can help to move product.
People also don't just eat for sustenance. They're often making all
sorts of value judgments too with
their purchases, about things
like health, waste, sustainability,
GMOs, animal welfare, treatment of workers, and more. The
more that consumers can trace,
the better equipped they are to make
buying decisions.
Charlebois says safety has dominated food
traceability decisions, for good reason. "But

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food safety never had market currency," he
says. "It's like selling a seatbelt with the car.
People don't expect to pay more for it."
The promise of the product in its entirety,
in contrast, has currency with consumers.
Charlebois says the supply chain can offer powerful information that can go a long way to
support a food integrity agenda.
"We're at the beginning of what these tools
can create as a value-add for consumers," says
Grondin. "I think consumers will feel entitled
to having product information in real-time."
Discussions about food traceability don't
exist in a vacuum, says Livingstone. Getting
the right system and technology in place is
critical. But so are wider debates about who
controls the data related to our food, what kind
of data is collected, and how it's shared.
Livingstone says the notion of traceability
also raises bigger issues about the food system. She notes that the local food movement,
where people are buying closer to the source,
shortens the supply chain. That reduces the
need for expensive data and connects food
consumers more closely with food producers.
What type of food system do we want to
invest in? "The challenges that traceability hopes to overcome are valid, but it's important we
ask the questions," says Livingstone.
Technology, automated data and insight
into supply chains raise many questions. For the sake of safety, business
efficiencies and consumer power, one thing is sure around
food-there's an appetite
for information.

FOOD & GROCERY

| CANADIAN RETAILER | 5 5


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Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019

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Contents
Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019 - 1
Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019 - 2
Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019 - Contents
Canadian Retailer Magazine - The Food & Grocery Issue 2019 - 4
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