Sep 26, 2016 at 02:05 PM
Mike McMorris, General Manager, bio
Today’s consumer is more and more interested in knowing about their food. That may include where it came from, something about the farmer and/or processor that produced it, specific production practices along the way, nutritional composition, etc. More than that though, they have moved beyond wanting the story of food, they want a biography.
Humans are storytellers at heart. Before we developed an alphabet, our stories were oral and were passed from one generation to the next. In today’s world, with a growing cynicism of consumers and multiple communication channels, a story simply doesn’t meet expectations. Consumers want proof and the only way to provide that proof is to document data and information along the supply chain. That collection of documentation for a particular item is in effect its own biography.
There will always be a market for products without a story but that market will continue to shrink and price differences between products with a bio and those without can be expected to increase. Just think of any other market segment beyond food and how even the simplest biography (a brand name) can impact market demand and price. By adding more information to your product, the discriminating consumer is more likely to consider purchasing that item.
A recent survey by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity found that 21% of respondents feel that the Canadian food system is headed in the wrong direction while another 50% are unsure. This is a sobering finding and yet it presents a wonderful opportunity: 50% of consumers are waiting to be shown that everyone along the food supply chain is doing their part to build consumer trust. Specific concerns identified by consumers related to production practices (e.g., animal welfare), faith in inspection systems (particularly food safety) and trust of specific sectors (particularly food manufacturing, retail and government) within the supply chain. As the old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and so everyone along the supply chain should take the results seriously.
Businesses along the supply chain have different challenges in effectively capturing data and managing information to be more successful. There are several systems available to help do that. When considering these systems for your own business, be sure to ask these ten important questions:
1. Does it allow me to capture data easily and in real time?
2. Is my data safe should my computer malfunction?
3. Can it be customized to meet my own business needs and preferences?
4. Is there a support team available when I need help?
5. Does the system do more than collect data by creating valuable information?
6. Can I easily share data with those that I want to connect with?
7. Is it web-based so that updates are not a problem?
8. Can I use it on my smart phone?
9. Can I use it out of internet range?
10. What does it cost?
Too often people start with question #10. Another old saying is that “You get what you pay for” and while cost is obviously a consideration, you need to ask questions 1-9 first to be able to determine value.
Ensuring that you provide a bio on your product, whether that is an animal, a crop, or a finished product is your way of providing transparency to consumers. More and more, consumers demand nothing less... they want a biography.