By: Steve Markenson, Vice President, Research & Insights, FMI
On November 14 and 15, FMI participated in The Center for Food Integrity's Transparency Summit 2023 in Chicago. The Summit gathered a wide-ranging group of leaders from all facets of the food industry to explore the challenges and opportunities of transparency and to learn from one another. The focus was on the practical action food system stakeholders can take to build trust through transparent practices.
The event opened with an interactive keynote by The Second City improv company which was a laugh-and-learn session that we all enjoyed. I went next and started by telling the energized audience about how my family always calls me the "fun sucker" and how appropriate it was that I was following a comedy group with a serious message about the importance of transparency to U.S. grocery shoppers.
The message of my presentation focused on the results of new research FMI released that morning conducted with NIQ (NielsenIQ). Transparency Trends 2023: Food Shoppers Increasingly Prioritize Information explores shoppers' evolving attitudes about transparency over the past five years. Let me share a few highlights from the report.
The Importance of Transparency
Tracking back to FMI's first research on transparency in 2018, we have seen the share of shoppers saying that transparency is very or extremely important increase from 69% to 72% in 2021 to 76% in 2023. This growing importance is driven by millennials and shoppers with children. Front-of-pack labeling is an approach that many companies have employed. Shoppers have noticed this additional labeling (87%) and have found it to be a valuable resource (63%). But many shoppers (55%) express interest in seeking more information beyond what is on the label (up from 50% in 2021). Most shoppers (82%) also say they are likely to seek more information by scanning a product or a UPC code.
How Shoppers Judge Transparency
Shoppers were asked how they determine whether a brand or manufacturer is being transparent. Their answers covered many angles, from ingredients to sourcing. Here are the top responses cited:
- Complete list of ingredients.
- Plain English description of ingredients.
- Certifications (such as USDA organic).
- In-depth nutritional information.
- Information about how products are produced and ingredients are sourced.
- Allergen information – both what is required and beyond what is required.
- Nutrient and health claims and much more.
The Impact of Transparency
The report explores who shoppers see as responsible for and who is trusted to provide transparency – manufacturers, brands, retailers, farmers, etc. It also sheds light on the impact of transparency on trust, loyalty, brand switching and more. A hint – the report delivers on the Summit's theme of "transparency as the currency of trust."
Please join FMI and NIQ for a digital seminar on February 22, 2024 as we continue to explore shoppers' transparency expectations.