In an era of great global uncertainty and unprecedented concern for our health and economies, provenance has never been a more critical message. In the UK, a country severely impacted by COVID-19, a new survey by HelloFresh revealed that 39% of consumers said lockdown has made them more sustainably aware when they shop.
A focus on our wellbeing also driven by COVID-19 is also set to remain high on the consumer agenda. Not only can this demand be met by functional ingredients, but through improved transparency. Long before the pandemic, there was already increased focus in this area.
In the EU (including the UK), updated legislation which came into force on 1st April 2020 now requires labels to provide the place of provenance, or country of origin, of the product (or primary ingredient of the product). The labels must reference the geographical area indicating where the product has derived from: ‘EU’, ‘non-EU’, ‘EU and non-EU’, region, body of water, and the country of origin or place of provenance.
These expanded rules on country of origin labelling have been made with food safety firmly front of mind.
The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that 600 million people fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, along with a mortality rate of 420,000 per year. Due to the risks wrongly labelled food can have, the EU is continuing to take extra measures to target food safety so that the consumer understands where the food they are buying has been produced and how it was handled.
Having a way to trace the origin of each ingredient within a product helps supply chains act quickly and effectively when necessary. This is why blockchain technology is now commonly used to make the food tracking process easier. This technology helps reduce cost and improve food safety between a consumer goods company and a retailer. This improved transparency leads to brand loyalty; consumers know where their products are derived, they know the authenticity of the product, and as a result, they are willing to try new products from that brand.
Whilst legislation is certainly fuelling consumer expectation in the EU, the desire for authenticity is undoubtedly a global trend. Increasingly sceptical consumers seek trust and transparency about how products are produced, and the fallout from the pandemic only serves to amplify this need for reassurance. Increased attention on the climate emergency is also driving consumers to hold brands accountable for their actions – origin is no longer reserved for ‘eco’ brands, but a ‘must have’ part of a brand story.
As consumers become more curious about the origins of their food and beverages, it’s likely that this will translate into healthier eating habits companies will have to cater for this burgeoning demand by using more natural ingredients and ensuring products provide clear and transparent labelling.
Find out more about our range of beverage ingredients here