News & Blog

CFI Blog

CFI’s Arnot Says SmartLabel a Step in the Right Direction

More than 30 leading food, beverage and consumer products companies are on board with the new SmartLabel™ technology, announced this week by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

SmartLabel provides consumers with instant access to information about thousands of products via websites or by using mobile devices to scan QR codes on packaging. A SmartLabel app will be introduced in mid-2016.

“Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced and this is a step in the right direction,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity.

CFI recently released its 2015 consumer trust research on transparency, which proves that increased transparency translates to increased consumer trust.

The results show that consumers want transparency in very specific areas, whether that’s food safety, the impact of food on health, food animal well-being, the environment, business ethics, or labor and human rights. And they want information in very specific ways.

Click here or on the image below to download a PDF. 

The GMA SmartLabel is one tool that can help; however, no single source will meet everyone’s information needs, he said.

“What we know from the research is that consumers are crowdsourcing knowledge,” he said. “They’re looking at company websites and third-party websites, using QR codes and apps, and relying on friends and neighbors — lots of different sources.”

Only around eight percent of respondents in the 2015 CFI survey chose QR codes as their primary source of food information, but Arnot said QR codes haven’t been an option to date.

There’s also a psychological benefit to making the technology available, he said, as research has shown that people feel better knowing the information is available even if they don’t access it.

“What will determine the success of SmartLabel is how broadly the technology is adopted by the food system,” he said.

The SmartLabel tool and website will be fully available to shoppers toward the second half of 2016.

You can download CFI’s latest consumer trust research, “A Clear View of Transparency and How It Builds Trust,” here.