The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) have partnered to create a new culture of transparency in the food system as a means of building consumer trust and promoting a deeper connection to food.
Consolidating research the two groups conducted separately, FMI and CFI released March 7 the white paper “Transparency Roadmap for Food Retailers: Strategies to Build Consumer Trust.” It offers guidance for food retailers and their supplier partners to provide shoppers with clear information about food.
“In an age when information flows freely – from trustworthy and some not-so-trustworthy sources – food consumers simply want balanced, credible information regarding the products in the supermarket,” said David Fikes, vice president for FMI communications and consumer/community affairs. “Grocers who provide easy access to clear information the shopper wants will be rewarded by a shift in consumer perception – moving from being a simple purveyor of food to a trusted ally in the shopper’s food experience.”
FMI is partnering with CFI to develop a transparency index -- based on consumer transparency expectations -- that will provide retailers with an easy-to-use tool for assessing how well they have integrated transparency into their cultures and operations and providing specific research-based guidance to enhance transparency.
In developing the index, CFI identified six transparency areas that are priorities for consumers:
1. Impact of food on health.
2. Food safety.
3. Impact on the environment.
4. Labor and human rights.
5. Treatment of animals raised for food.
6. Business ethics in food production.
“Consumers hold food manufacturers and farmers chiefly responsible for transparency, CFI has found; however, food retailers are increasingly in the spotlight as they place more focus on their own brands and private-label products,” CFI chief executive officer Charlie Arnot said. “Trust-building transparency is no longer optional but, rather, a basic consumer expectation.”
The release of the white paper and its outline of actionable steps and resources ushers in the first phase of a multiyear transparency journey, the groups said.