Transparency and trust are more important than ever

In the context of health and other concerns around food, consumers are looking for transparency as reassurance, with 58% saying they really care about how food and beverages are produced and want to know everything they can about the process. This suggests an opportunity for brands to provide more information about production methods and especially provenance – one of the strongest drivers of consumer purchasing decisions.

Trust is clearly an issue, particularly at a time when misinformation is so prevalent. Consumers overwhelmingly hold manufacturers responsible for food safety (at 55%, way ahead of government, which comes next at 45%). However, there is relatively little trust in them as a provider of information on the subject. They are ranked well below doctors, scientists and NGOs and are cited as trustworthy on food safety by less than a quarter (23%) of respondents. Interestingly, on-pack information rates significantly higher – rated fourth (at 42%), ahead of family and friends – perhaps because it is associated with key information such as ingredients and expiry dates, which are widely relied on, as we mentioned. This suggests that on-pack is a good medium for brands to get their transparency message across.

There is little trust in manufacturers as a provider of information on food safety

One way that food and beverage manufacturers are adapting to boost trust and food safety simultaneously is by harnessing blockchain technology, which allows for completely interconnected, transparent supply chains “from farm to fork”. Our social media research shows that blockchain is generally described with hope and optimism, as it is seen to hold all parties accountable. However, there is some concern among consumers around whether or not it can deliver what is promised.

There are also opportunities for “connected packages” that allow consumers to scan an on-pack QR code or similar to access a wealth of online information about the product’s provenance, environmental credentials, recycling points and so forth, or to access engaging or other value-added content. While consumers in some markets have been slow to adopt such scanning, this has changed rapidly in the COVID-19 “touch-free” era, with proliferating codes now widely used to access digital menus in restaurants, register for track and trace systems and so forth.

More generally, there is potential for brands with purpose to build on the value they proved and the relationships they forged during the pandemic.

Case study: Doi Kham, Thailand 

Doi Kham Thai herbal-flavoured drink in Tetra Gemina® Aseptic 500 Square packages

Provenance, trust and transparency are all key to Doi Kham’s brand image. It has long been affectionately known by Thai consumers for its support of local farmers and communities by using only locally grown produce.

One recent launch, a drink containing lemongrass, ginger and pandanus, is a great example of this, showcasing herbs and spices from local farmers. First launched in May 2020, the product was sold exclusively at 7-Eleven stores for three months to test the market before nationwide distribution. This authentic Thai herbal flavoured drink – targeting health-conscious consumers aged 30 and above – promotes the benefits of local herbs in reducing stress, refreshing, and supporting correct digestion.

Doi Kham has chosen Tetra Gemina® Aseptic 500 Square to preserve the unique flavour and taste of the beverage, while ensuring product quality. Moreover, the package is FSC™-certified, nicely contributing to environmentally sound product positioning and authenticity as a key pillar of the company’s brand image.

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