Food Transparency Trend: Why It’s Important to Consumers
If you provide any food service to consumers these days, food transparency is essential. Food transparency has become the new normal and is a crucial part of building up brand loyalty and keeping customers happy. Consumers are well-educated and well-informed health-conscious folks. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to be open and honest with your customers regarding how a product is made. Your patrons don’t just want healthy, good-tasting food, they want to be the decision-makers. They need to see food sourcing, ingredient lists, nutritional information, allergens, the production process, and the ecological impact of the foods they eat.
Transparency in the food industry is important for a number of reasons, including allergies, social responsibility, and sustainability. Being open about the food you are serving builds trust with your patrons and helps them understand your brand values.
For restaurant owners, that means you may display food information on your website or provide written material for patrons when they dine with you. Many brands provide a QR code that leads consumers to the list of ingredients and other pertinent information.
What Consumers Are Demanding
Transparency in the food industry is a growing trend among consumers as people want to know how and where their food was grown or made. Research shows that 95 percent of consumers feel it’s essential for manufacturers and brands to provide food ingredients and how the food was made, listed on the packaging label or in the restaurant. If you are thinking about getting into the food industry, it’s vital to understand this movement and the target audience. In addition to nutritional and allergen information, some of the terms consumers are eyeing closely these days are:
- Organic – this is a specific label identifying produce that is certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances like synthetic fertilizers or pesticides applied for three years prior to harvest.
- Antibiotic-free – “no antibiotics” means that the animals were not given antibiotics in their feed, in their water, or by injection.
- GMO-free – “non-GMO” claim means that the food is made without ingredients derived from genetically engineered organisms.
- Free-range – this means that birds must have “outdoor access” or “access to the outdoors.”
- Cage-free – your eggs are from hens that were not kept in battery cages, allowed instead to move about the egg production barn. But cage-free does not mean hens were given access to the outdoors.
- Sustainable – the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.
- Fair trade – this describes a social-responsibility movement in which farmers and their employees are treated and paid fairly, sustainable environmental practices are followed, and long-term trade relationships are fostered.
Consumers want to connect to brands that share the same values. They are looking for ethics in farming, the welfare of animals, and the source of the foods they consume. Building a level of trust with your customers builds loyalty and profits.
The Nature and More movement says, “Transparency empowers citizens to cast a vote every time they buy something as a consumer.” That’s why it’s in your best interest as a restaurant owner to provide information to help your customers make their own choices about where your food comes from and who produced it. It’s also the reason many people want to be part of the eat local movement and why farmers markets are becoming so popular — it allows the consumer to speak directly with the grower.
Food Transparency vs. Government Regulations
It’s important to understand that food transparency goes beyond food regulation. For example, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards on foods. The FDA has oversight pertaining to the overall safety and efficacy of food and drug products. Similarly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.
Food transparency is more than just following government regulations; disclosing practices and ingredients. It is about sharing your mission and values and communicating that to your customers. That’s what SoBol does every day. Since our inception 10 years ago, our primary goal was to be honest and open with our customers. We understand health-conscious consumers not only want nutritious food, but they want to make an informed decision about the food they eat by knowing where it comes from and how it was grown. Being transparent has allowed us to build a loyalty and trust with our customers. They know our high standards and depend on us to continue to serve healthy bowls and smoothies with honest nutritional and allergen labeling.
We want our customers to be comfortable eating our bowls and smoothies made with the freshest ingredients with a completely customizable menu. This has been the key to our success and the reason we have grown to more than 50 locations throughout the country.
If you want to be part of a strong, honest, and transparent brand that serves up the latest trends in healthy foods, sign up here to learn more about our growing franchise family.