Importance Of Traceability Of Ingredients To Consumers


To gain an understanding of how important "traceability" of ingredients is for consumers when it comes to foods, particularly within North America. An ideal response would discover whether consumers understand the term, and whether there might be better words to describe traceability.

Early Findings

  • Traceability of ingredients in food should be important to consumers as it can enhance or strengthen brand confidence.
  • The definition of Traceability is the ability to track any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution (including importation and at retail). Traceability should mean that movements can be traced one step backwards and one step forward at any point in the supply chain.
  • In a recent Nielsen study, buying local had the best awareness among U.S. consumers, topping the charts at 46%. As food transparency becomes the industry standard and companies strive to provide complete traceability through block-chain technology, it will affect how consumers shop.
  • Food traceability is one of the top five food trends in 2019, according to IFIC (International Food Information Council Foundation). “Consumers want to know how their food is produced, where it came from and the quality of the ingredients. They also have broader questions about environmental sustainability, and many seek brands that align with their broader social values.”
  • Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) asked people if they would switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. In 2016, 39% agreed they would switch to such brand, while in 2018, 75% of them answered the same.
  • In a survey, 80% of consumers said there is a lot of conflicting information about what foods to eat or avoid. They also can not trust even the most prestigious brands being genuine, let alone trusting the attributes like organic/bio, non-GM, or geographical indications.
  • "Consumers across the world are asking for increased transparency into the contents and production of their food; however, it is not yet clear how consumers will respond with significantly improved supply chain visibility. Will they be willing to pay more for traceable products? Will they be more loyal to brands that provide this level of visibility? Will the ability to measure the environmental impact of different production processes inform buying decisions?"
  • The 2018 Food and Health Survey revealed over half of respondents indicate recognizing the ingredients, understanding where food is from and the number of ingredients as key factors that impact purchasing decisions. Women were more likely to rate these factors as more important when compared to men. In addition, compared to 2017, more Americans cited that understanding how the food is produced altered their decision to buy a food or beverage.
  • FoodLogiQ uncovered similar trends when surveying over 2,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their sentiment around food traceability and expectations for food companies regarding recalls and food borne illness. With regard to transparency in labeling, 54 percent of respondents want as much information as possible on the label, and nearly 40 percent want country of origin, allergen alerts and GMOs all identified on the label. You can download that free report from this link.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our first hour of research provided insights and information on how important traceability of ingredients in food is to consumers. The vast majority of this data came from North American sources, but we did include one EU article as we felt it had relevance, as well as an Australian source that defined traceability.
  • It is clear to us that traceability is important and goes hand in hand with shopping local, understanding ingredients, and sustainability.
  • We did not have time in our initial hour of research to determine if North American consumers understand the term (though it appears they do especially in the Millennial cohort) and whether there might be better words to describe traceability.
  • We have defined North America as Canada and the United States only. If that needs to be expanded, that must be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

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