Concerns about the safety of food products and their traceability have been put under the spotlight by consumers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have highlighted.
According to Tetra Pak’s latest global research study, which highlights and analyses consumer trends related to foods and beverages in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, 60 per cent of the world population is concerned about food safety and hygiene amid the pandemic. In addition, more than 50 per cent of consumers believe improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers.
The results of the study also showed that six in 10 consumers agreed that the global population is heading for an environmental disaster, unless we change our daily habits, while 63 per cent believe that pandemic lockdowns have brought environmental improvements that they would like to see maintained.
“Covid-19 has accelerated a reprioritisation of consumer needs while bringing new opportunities for the food and beverage companies to shape the industry. Addressing food safety concerns while minimising food waste cannot come at the expense of the planet,” said Amar Zahid, president, Middle East and Africa at Tetra Pak. “The food industry needs to step up towards the twin goals of protecting our planet and meeting the human need for food.”
Tetra Pak’s research also noted that with 59 per cent of people worried about the food they buy being hygienic and safe, health – a leading consumer concern for a long time – is now bound up with these heightened issues of food safety and hygiene: 67 per cent agree that being healthy is being safe.
This observation was mirrored in a similar survey of UAE shoppers by Bord Bia, which revealed that consumers have shifted to placing a higher value on buying fresh, higher quality food, and increased importance on food provenance, as a result of the global pandemic.
Over 50 per cent of adults in the UAE see nutritional content and the naturalness of their food & drink as being more important now as a result of the pandemic. The same number also revealed that they are choosing foods that help boost immunity more often, while 47 per cent said that they are having fresh fruit and vegetables more often. In addition, four in 10 adults are buying better quality foods in general as a result of the pandemic; and 48 per cent say that it is more important now to buy natural products.
The survey also revealed that the origins and provenance of food choices is increasingly more important to shoppers in the UAE, with a sharper focus on food safety standards. Results showed that 52 per cent of adults in the UAE feel the traceability of their food and drink is more important.
The growing demand for food traceability is also evidenced by research conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), showing that 73 per cent of those responding to a survey said traceability of products is important to them. Of those who said it was very important, 71 per cent of respondents indicated they are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it. Towards this end, Majid Al Futtaim and IBM recently announced that Majid Al Futtaim has joined IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-enabled global ecosystem for the food industry run on IBM Cloud. Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels of insight and transparency to its customers about the provenance of their food via end-to-end visibility on products throughout its supply chain, promoting increased quality, credibility and safety for its shoppers.
By simply using their smartphone to scan a QR code on participating products such as Carrefour’s fresh chicken, customers will be able to get immediate access to actionable food supply chain data, from farm to store shelf. The history of the product, including production process, halal and hygiene certifications, date of birth, nutrition information and temperature data, will be readily available once uploaded onto the blockchain.
“Trust in the food supply is becoming increasingly important worldwide, a trend accelerated by changing consumer demands and the subsequent health and wellbeing concerns arising from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Retail. “It is therefore imperative for us to invest in ensuring quality throughout the value chain while simultaneously working to build robust customer trust and loyalty. In meeting the new market expectations, we are now offering enhanced food traceability for our valued Carrefour customers and improved operational efficiency for our business.”
Majid Al Futtaim is engaging with its supplier partners to enable broader participation in this initiative, giving Carrefour customers access to traceability details across diverse products throughout the UAE, before introducing it to other Carrefour markets operated by the company in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
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