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    Live From GMA: Ingredient Transparency Initiative Unveiled

    Trade org kicks off two-day education and networking event

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    GMA's Jim Flannery explains the group's new product transparency initiative

    Manufacturers of packaged foods will soon have a convenient tool to provide consumers full disclosure about what’s inside.

    This new transparency initiative was unveiled Saturday on the first day of the annual Grocery Manufacturers Association Leadership Forum, held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    The two-day education and networking event for the food industry’s top executives included a variety of leadership tracks focusing on e-commerce, omnichannel marketing, shopper behavior and other key issues.

    Ingredient Transparency

    Pamela Bailey, GMA’s president and CEO, said the voluntary transparency initiative comes in response to consumers’ desire for more information about what they’re eating. It’s also a tactical maneuver as GMA and other industry groups have opposed the hodgepodge of local and state regulations looking to wield authority over how packaged foods are labeled.

    Calling it “something truly breakthrough,” Bailey described the initiative as providing consumers with full access to the content and makeup of branded products in a “simple, clear digital format.” (GMA requested that the trademarked name of the app not be revealed until it’s rolled out publicly later this year).

    Consumers can reach the app’s landing page via search, QR code on product packaging of participating brands, or through other apps that partner with the initiative.

    GMA Senior EVP Jim Flannery, who led the app’s 18-month development, explained that consumers can simply scan a product’s bar code with their mobile device, taking them to a brand landing page where they can find complete ingredient and allergen information. The individual brands control the content, Flannery noted: “The brands are having the dialogue with the consumer.”

    GMA has high hopes for public acceptance of the app, based on focus group feedback, video of which was shown during the forum. Consumer panelists praised the app as “user friendly” and appreciated its simple design, clear presentation and deep resources; some noted it saved them hours they usually spent researching ingredients on Google.

    Brand manufacturers can participate in the initiative by building their own landing page using GMA’s style guide, outsourcing the web work, or using a “plug-and-play” version designed by The Hershey Co. and donated to GMA for use by its members.

    The initiative is an ongoing project, Flannery said: “It will provide brand owners with the opportunity to have a deep dialogue with consumers.”

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing. Follow him at www.twitter.com/JimDudlicek

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