Health and wellness conscious patrons lead the drive for greater transparency from food businesses
Commercial kitchen operators and businesses across the food and drink industry have long been aware that the food business is particularly susceptible to the changing needs and preferences of consumers. The demands of the end customer are often the key driving force behind wider changes in the food industry as a whole. These changes are likely to affect commercial food practices and may also widen the role played by food safety labels.
Currently, the changes occurring in the fast evolving food and beverage industry can be usefully grouped under a greater demand for transparency. This demand, however, encompasses a wide range of issues which are becoming increasingly important to customers and the buying decisions they make. Many people, for instance, may be seeking out a more premium food experience, which makes information on the provenance and associated quality of all ingredients central to their willingness to pay a premium price. At the same time, consumers are also becoming more environmentally and socially aware which is reflected in the buying choices they make. Here, there is likely to be a high demand for clear information on the country of origin and a preference for locally sourced ingredients. Decisions may be based on concerns about animal welfare, sustainable farming practices and the wider practices of the producers and companies involved throughout the supply chain.
The change in the food consumer landscape is also being driven by a greater level of interest in all of the ingredients in the food they choose. People are generally more health conscious and therefore keen to be more aware of the make-up and nutritional value of the food they consume. In terms of food safety, preferences focussed on allergies, intolerances or other health-based choices are also increasingly important to the food industry. The rise in gluten free options is just one example of how the food industry is adapting to new consumer demands.
All of these considerations have been highlighted as significant influences on the food and drink choices consumers are making at the supermarket checkout as well as the restaurants and cafés where they choose to spend their time and money. Where customers may once have selected food based only on flavour and price, a much more diverse array of factors are now coming into play for the decisions they make. In order to remain responsive to changing consumer demands and remain competitive, smart food businesses need to be aware of these developments, find ways to stay agile and meet new expectations. In order to build consumer trust, commercial kitchens will need to better manage food safety practices and procedures along with maintaining a better awareness of the key information customers now demand about their food. This will involve accurately identifying where raw meat, fish, produce and honey have been caught or produced and the specific species involved. Increased consideration of the production process is also growing in importance in terms of whether raw and cooked food products contain any traces of pesticides, allergens or antibiotic residue.
Food safety labels have a key role to play in this increasingly complex landscape and could unlock the ability to respond to evolving and varied consumer demands. Appropriate labelling will, of course, remain vital for complying with applicable food safety standards including lists of ingredients and common allergens. The use of well-designed labels providing all kitchen staff with clear and conscious information can also be expanded to serve any of the new demands consumers are applying to their eating habits to facilitate greater accuracy and transparency. This could include any pertinent issue from country of origin and designations such as organic produce to animal welfare standards and a greater emphasis on communicating the lifestyle and dietary needs of today’s food consumers.
Contact us to discuss how our range of food safety labels and many other products can help you and your business keep pace with the changing commercial food environment.