Food and beverage production is big business—with big hurdles. The $700 billion-a-year industry accounts for 13 percent of household consumption in Europe, but due to changes in the food market the world over, it’s also facing new challenges. Consolidating retailer power, an explosion of local craft brands, a lack of consumer trust and ever-stricter label regulations are currently throwing a spanner in the works for food and beverage brands.
However, by leveraging a new technology solution, these brands can stay ahead of regulations, earn back consumer trust and take a leading position in the market.
Starting in December 2016, food and beverage brands in Europe are now obligated to comply with EU 1169. The new regulation requires that all pre-packaged foods and drinks be labeled with specific product information, including ingredients, origin and allergens, in order to help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions. As part of this regulation, brands must make all required product information available both on packaging and online.
Of course, to access this information, consumers have to go through the hassle of opening a web browser, typing in the website address and navigating to the right information. All of this can be greatly simplified with the use of on-product codes and digital identities.
Imagine if all a consumer had to do was pick up their phone, scan a QR code on a product and suddenly access a wealth of valuable information about the food or beverage they’re about to buy or have already bought. Through strategic partnerships with packaging leaders such as Crown and WestRock, EVRYTHNG is already enabling billions of physical food and beverage products to be manufactured with a digital identity in the cloud that, when activated by our Internet of Things Smart Products Platform, can arm brands with this very capability.
But it’s not just how this information is accessed; they way it’s presented matters too. The average consumer isn’t going to know whether “150 kcal” for instance is a good thing or a bad thing when presented alongside many other nutritional numbers, in a tiny font, squeezed in the bottom corner of a packet of chips. And health claims without context mean nothing. In fact, a recent Nielsen study found that only 51% of European consumers actually trust health claims on food packages. Instead of scrunching all the important information in a two-inch square on the back of a package, brands can use smart labeling to give consumers quick access to an information portal that offers educational—and even entertaining and promotion—content far beyond a list of ingredients. It’s a chance for brands to over-deliver information in the name of transparency, trust and leadership.
As regulations and expectations of transparency rise, food and beverage brands have both a responsibility to comply and an opportunity to go the extra mile—positioning themselves as leaders in the market and trustworthy in the minds of consumers. The bottom line is this: brands need to make it unbelievably easy for consumers to get information about the products they’re eating, not only to stay ahead of regulators, but to retain the trust of consumers and to ready themselves for any challenges the ever-growing industry throws at them.