Consumers Increasingly Demand More Information About Their Food

From the labeling of GMO ingredients on food, to antibiotic use in livestock, consumers increasingly want to know more about what is in the food they purchase and how it was produced.

Ilan Brat and Annie Gasparro reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “From niche players such as Fish + People to large enterprises such as Campbell Soup Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., companies are rushing to meet consumers’ increasing demand to know more about what’s in their food, where it came from, and how it was produced. Hershey Co.’s new ‘smart labels’ are putting more nutrition information on packages and eventually could showcase where it buys its ingredients. Kellogg Co. and General Mills Inc. now feature on their websites, names and profiles of farmers who grow wheat and oats for their cereals.

“Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club unit recently began putting codes on produce packages that smartphone-wielding shoppers can scan to learn where, how and by whom the food was grown.

“Driving the efforts are consumers’ heightened concerns about health and the environmental and social impact of food production, as well as regulatory and safety worries.”

The Journal writers pointed out that, “Transparency initiatives are getting a boost from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, rules on which are just being completed, because it puts more responsibility on retailers to ensure products are safe. Software from companies such as three-year-old ReposiTrack Inc. can now log inspection and other reports at every step of a supply chain and ensure compliance with safety protocols.”

The current consumer environment will likely contribute to increased opportunities for nimble, start-up agricultural operations, that focus on farm-to-table specialties and value-added ventures.

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