With a newly released whitepaper and forthcoming transparency index, the Food Marketing Institute and the Center for Food Integrity are making the case for transparency as a chief means of building consumer trust and promoting a deeper connection to food.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) are working together to help provide shoppers with clear information about the food they buy.
The first part of the project, a whitepaper released earlier this month, consolidated research the two groups had been conducting separately around loyalty and transparency.
We all think we’re communicating wonderfully well, until we find out that whoever we’re communicating with doesn’t understand anything we’ve just said.
Transparency Roadmap for Food Retailers: Strategies to Build Consumer Trust makes a case for creating a culture of transparency, and it also offers guidance for food retailers and their suppliers about how they can begin to give shoppers clear information about their food.
“In an age when information flows freely—from trustworthy and some not-so-trustworthy sources—food consumers simply want balanced, credible information regarding the products in the supermarket,” said David Fikes, vice president, FMI communications and consumer/community affairs, in a press release. “Grocers who provide easy access to clear information the shopper wants will be rewarded by a shift in consumer perception—moving from being a simple purveyor of food to a trusted ally in the shopper’s food experience.”
It’s really about developing a culture of listening to the customer, Fikes said in an interview with Associations Now: “What is it that they’re wanting? What is the information that they’re requesting? And how can you get that to them in a way that they find successful?”
To help answer some of those questions, FMI and CFI are working to develop a transparency index. The intent is to provide retailers with an easy-to-use tool that will assess how well they have integrated transparency into their cultures and operations and to provide specific research-based guidance to enhance transparency.
“If you ask us, we all think we’re being transparent and obvious,” Fikes said. “We all think we’re communicating wonderfully well, until we find out that whoever we’re communicating with doesn’t understand anything we’ve just said.”
In developing the index, CFI identified six transparency areas that are priorities for consumers. Among them: impact of food on health, food safety, and treatment of animals raised for food.
“Consumers hold food manufacturers and farmers chiefly responsible for transparency, CFI has found; however, food retailers are increasingly in the spotlight as they place more focus on their own brands and private label products,” said CFI CEO Charlie Arnot in a press release. “Trust-building transparency is no longer optional, but rather a basic consumer expectation.”