Supply chain transparency in modern food & beverage manufacturing: Building consumer trust

customer reading drink label seen through glass door store     

July 9, 2020By Mikael Bengtsson

Achieving supply chain transparency across the food value chain is an increasingly complex process as many food and beverage companies are dependent on a multitude of suppliers with varying levels of supply chain sophistication. In this blog series we will dig deeper into the processes and technology tools required to gain full supply chain transparency. When done right, it has the added benefit of building consumer trust, securing food safety, reducing waste, supporting sustainability claims, and strengthening brands.

Meeting consumer demand for transparent food supply chains
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation states in a paper about food trends, “Americans have a growing appetite for more information about their food, and technology is enabling eaters like never before… it’s also driving transparency across the food supply chain.” The brands that consumers prefer have also become an expression of who they aspire to be, which is why they seek out a company’s origin story, sustainability efforts, social consciousness, and corporate transparency, writes Forbes.

The farm to table movement, is not a passing trend. Evolving from the declining demand for highly processed foods, farm to table is a consumer-driven system of bringing healthier and either locally sourced or more ethically sourced foods to market. It’s a system that consumers want to be involved in, which can be as simple as reading clean labels to ensure the locality in their foods, or following brands or producers on social media to make sure that the sustainability efforts, social consciousness, and corporate transparency of the companies they chose to buy from align with their personal beliefs.

But what is the process by which a product actually moves from farm to table?

  • On the farm—Livestock, dairy products, and produce are ethically raised and sourced.
  • Transportation—The safe transportation of live animals and produce to factories or processing plants.
  • Factory—Workers clean, cut, and prepare food for distribution to retailers.
  • Transportation—Logistics systems manage the safe and efficient transport of food products to retailers.
  • Retailer—Food products are displayed based on seasonality and shelf-life for consumers.
  • Consumer—Food hits the table.

As simple and straightforward as this process may seem, an efficient and transparent food supply chain requires extensive collaboration and coordination between stakeholders. Preferably in real time. This can be challenging as many food and beverage companies rely on factories and other parts of the supply chain that are owned by suppliers or trading partners—and those partners source from several suppliers themselves—creating multiple layers of complexity in the quest for transparency.

To learn more about this topic and gain some practical information about steps your organization can take to achieve a transparent supply chain, read our best practices guide: “Benefits of improving supply chain transparency in modern food and beverage manufacturing.”

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