Now more than ever, consumers are concerned about food safety. In a recent study from the Center for Food Integrity, less than half of respondents (44%) said they hold a positive impression of the food manufacturing industry — but that doesn’t mean you have no chance at winning over your target market. In fact, 63% of people indicated they are interested in learning more about food manufacturing and 65% would like to learn more about agriculture.
Your consumers are hungry to learn about where their food comes from, exactly what’s in it, and how it’s made. They want to feel they can trust the providers of the food they buy, and transparency is a crucial part of establishing this trust.
To satisfy this need, you must be active in ensuring the quality and safety of the food ingredients you source; and transparent with your consumers about how you accomplish that.
Here are some ways your business can be proactive about improving transparency, to stay competitive in the market.
1. Improve Your Labeling
Labels are a consumer’s primary source of information about your products, so make sure the information they’re looking for is listed. Going above and beyond what is legally required may give you a competitive edge. For example, if your ingredients are sourced in a sustainable manner, consider including this on your product label to give your consumers additional information in which they’re likely interested.
You also can mention things that aren’t in your product — such as GMOs, antibiotics, or other ingredients that may be perceived as undesirable. Such assurances are an opportunity to stand out from the competition and offer more transparency to your customers. Just be sure that your labels remain relevant to the food you produce; if you include “no sugar added” on the label for a food that doesn’t normally contain any sugar, it can come off as misleading to consumers and further damage their trust in your brand.
Remember, the goal of increasing transparency is to build trust. Strive to be open and authentic about what goes into your food while highlighting only information that’s relevant to your product.
2. Promote Your Quality Assurance Practices
Don’t keep your quality management processes a secret. Talking about your own procedures for food safety can give your customers more reason to trust your brand.
You may even provide consumers a window into your quality assurance and control practices on your website. Features such as a video tour of your facility or interviews with key staff members can lend credibility and put a trustworthy face on your company. Explanations of various tests, procedures, standards, or other measures your company uses can give concrete evidence of your commitment to excellence.
For instance, at Seawind Foods we’ve dedicated an entire section of our website to inform our clients about our quality processes and standards. This helps display to our clients our commitment to safety, at every stage of production, so you can feel confident sourcing your dried ingredients from Seawind Foods. By practicing transparency with our clients, we help support you in being transparent with your own customers about how your food products are sourced and how you ensure quality in your supply chain.
3. Create a Response Plan for Negative Incidents
Nobody likes to think about what will happen if a quality or safety failure occurs. However, even the best quality control measures cannot guarantee that such a breach will never happen. The time to create a response plan is before you need it. Your plan should include finding answers to questions which will inevitably arise, including:
- What caused the issue?
- What was the result?
- How is your company acting to rectify the issue for the consumers who were affected?
- What is your company doing to prevent this issue from recurring in the future?
Transparency is paramount when a negative incident occurs. The way you respond to the incident will affect the way consumers perceive your company in the future. They want to know: will you admit your mistakes and take specific steps to avoid them in the future, or will you try to shrug it off and sweep the issue under the rug? Being honest and proactive is far more likely to win goodwill than defensiveness or silence.
4. Source Your Ingredients from Reputable Suppliers
If you want to be a reputable brand to your customers, you have to use reputable suppliers yourself. It’s important to establish relationships with quality suppliers you can trust. Ask your suppliers for proof of their quality assurance and testing procedures, including certifications and standards they hold themselves and require from other suppliers. Do they comply with all regulations and use Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)? Do they have a system in place for traceability and recall in case of an incident? Establish internal procedures to monitor these relationships going forward.
At Seawind Foods, we inspect all of our processors with rigorous quality checks, so our clients don’t have to do the work of vetting each food supplier individually. All of our processors are HACCP certified, and most are also compliant with GFSI. As a certified importer in compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), Seawind Foods holds the responsibility of ensuring the ingredients you purchase are safe, making your job easier and relieving your business of risk.
Seawind Foods prides itself on being a safe and trusted supplier of high-quality food ingredients. Visit our website to learn more about how we ensure the quality of our products.