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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.
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.”