FMI, CFI Team to Promote Transparency Culture
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the nonprofit Center for Food Integrity (CFI) have joined forces to promulgate a new culture of transparency in the food system as a way to build consumer trust and create a more profound connection to food. Consolidating research that the two groups conducted separately, a new white paper, “Transparency Roadmap for Food Retailers: Strategies to Build Consumer Trust,” offers guidance for food retailers and suppliers for giving shoppers clear information about 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, VP, communications and consumer/community affairs at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “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.”
FMI is collaborating with CFI on the development of a transparency index, based on consumer transparency expectations, that will offer retailers an easy-to-use tool both for assessing how well they’ve integrated transparency into their cultures and operations and providing specific research-based guidance to improve transparency.
In creating the index, CFI pinpointed six transparency areas that are important for consumers:
- Effect of food on health
- Food safety
- Impact on environment
- Labor and human rights
- Treatment of animals raised for food
- Business ethics in food production
“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,” noted Charlie Arnot, CEO of Gladstone, Mo.-based CFI. “Trust-building transparency is no longer optional, but rather a basic consumer expectation.”
The release of the white paper and its outline of actionable steps and resources represents the first phase of what the organizations have dubbed “a multiyear transparency journey.”