As con­sumers strive to find the clean­est and green­est la­bels that sup­port their health goals and their val­ues, the race is on for the new must-have in­gre­di­ent: rad­i­cal trans­parency.


Demand for com­plete supply chain trans­parency, from the rivers fished to the fields farmed, is chang­ing the way com­pa­nies be­have and con­sumers shop.

When it comes to food, “rad­i­cal trans­parency” is the watch­word for 2018, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket-re­search firm Min­tel. In­deed, 69% of 1,500 con­sumers sur­veyed in a re­cent Hart­man Group re­port wanted more trans­parency and ev­i­dence from com­pa­nies about their sus­tain­abil­ity prac­tices.

Con­sid­ered a step be­yond third-party cer­ti­fi­ca­tions such as Fair Trade Cer­ti­fied or Marine Ste­ward­ship Coun­cil (MSC), rad­i­cal trans­parency is about stay­ing ahead of the curve by of­fer­ing even more proof points to eaters. For com­pa­nies em­brac­ing this ap­proach, the goal is sim­ple: pro­vide a high-qual­ity prod­uct while also ame­lio­rat­ing a so­cial or en­vi­ron­ment ill.

Take seafood. Long lauded by nu­tri­tion­ists as a nu­tri­ent-packed su­per­food, the vast ma­jor­ity of eaters still fall well be­low the rec­om­mended in­take (at least two times per week), of­ten cit­ing con­cerns about po­ten­tial con­tam­i­nants such as poly­chlo­ri­nated biphenyls (PCBs), which are highly toxic in­dus­trial com­pounds; heavy me­tals such as lead, mer­cury or cad­mium; and gen­eral murk­i­ness about where the prod­uct was sourced.

“Seafood has been a no­to­ri­ously opaque in­dus­try for much of its his­tory, and that has led to a lot of fraud, over­fish­ing and un­sus­tain­able prac­tices that do not value re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing,” says Ken Plasse, CEO of Fish­peo­ple Seafood. The so­lu­tion? Fish­peo­ple Seafood

in­tro­duces you to the wa­ters, the fish­ing meth­ods, the species and the crews who caught your din­ner. “Our mis­sion is to di­rectly con­nect peo­ple with the story be­hind their seafood be­cause we have seen how this con­nec­tion in­spires peo­ple to sup­port more trans­par­ently sourced, pure seafood with no ar­ti­fi­cial ad­di­tives, as well as lo­cal coastal com­mu­ni­ties and in­de­pen­dent fish­er­men.”

Tech­nol­ogy as a Tool to Eat Cleaner

One tool ac­cel­er­at­ing this trend is tech­nol­ogy. While the lines be­tween our food and tech­nol­ogy have of­ten been fraught (think GMOs), in many re­spects it is tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion that’s en­abling more di­rect ac­cess to the in­for­ma­tion we crave as we seek cleaner in­gre­di­ent lists and tra­di­tional prepa­ra­tion or sourc­ing meth­ods. Whether it’s from livestreamed cam­eras, QR codes or blockchain (see next page), in­no­va­tions in trans­parency help brands do three im­por­tant things: Dare to Bare: 3 Trans­parency Trends to Watch Now

Here’s a quick primer on three trans­parency trends that are catch­ing on with con­sumers, as well as a few brands we love who are lead­ing the charge.

Cer­ti­fied B Cor­po­ra­tion

What it is: For shop­pers seek­ing more com­pas­sion­ate and holis­ti­cally minded com­pa­nies, Cer­ti­fied B Corp la­bel en­sures that com­pa­nies have met rig­or­ous stan­dards in all their prac­tices, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing value to the lo­cal com­mu­nity, ste­ward­ship of the en­vi­ron­ment and treat­ment of em­ploy­ees. Cer­ti­fied B Corp com­pa­nies con­tinue to pro­vide trans­parency in as­sess­ments done through the cer­ti­fy­ing body, B Lab.

How it works: Cer­ti­fied B Cor­po­ra­tion is an easy-to-spot la­bel that ap­pears on prod­ucts and web­sites.

Who’s do­ing it: Sol Or­gan­ica: In ad­di­tion to this com­pany’s nu­mer­ous cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, which in­clude USDA Or­ganic and Fair Trade Cer­ti­fied, Sol Or­gan­ica has been a Cer­ti­fied B Corp com­pany since 2017 and has part­ner­ships with sus­tain­able, small farms in Nicaragua. The com­pany “can trace back to where ev­ery morsel of mango, bite of pineap­ple or slurp of pas­sion fruit juice comes from.”

Try: Sol Sim­ple Dried Or­ganic Man­gos ($7, sol­sim­ Trace­able Straight to the Source

What it is: You’re prob­a­bly al­ready fa­mil­iar with a QR code, if not in name, then upon sight, as the ma­trix bar­code on the back of most of your pur­chased goods. This is one of the most com­mon track­ing tech­nolo­gies. When used by con­sci­en­tious com­pa­nies, it can pro­vide ac­cess to see ex­actly who grew, caught, har­vested or pro­duced ev­ery in­gre­di­ent.

How it works: Sim­ply scan the QR code with any num­ber of apps you can down­load onto your smart­phone (for ex­am­ple, Bar­code Scan­ner or QR Code Reader).

Who’s do­ing it: Promis­ing “one de­gree of sep­a­ra­tion” from the farm to you, One De­gree Or­ganic Foods shows where ev­ery in­gre­di­ent was sourced with a sim­ple QR code scan or by in­putting the prod­uct’s track­ing num­ber.

Try: One De­gree Or­ganic Foods Or­ganic Sprouted Rye Flour

($7, onede­gree­or­gan­

Sin­gle Ori­gin Source

What it is: Seem­ingly sim­ple com­modi­ties such as cof­fee, co­coa and live­stock of­ten have sprawl­ing global net­works with many stops along the way and mid­dle­men. For ex­am­ple, beef and pork im­ported from other coun­tries can legally be la­beled “Prod­uct of USA” if the prod­uct is pro­cessed in a USDAin­spected fa­cil­ity, thanks to changes to the Coun­try of Ori­gin La­bel­ing (COOL) law that went into ef­fect in 2015. Some brands are try­ing to rise above the noise with items pro­duced from a sin­gle ori­gin. This sig­ni­fies that the prod­ucts are made ex­clu­sively from a sin­gle batch, va­ri­etal, plot of land or even an­i­mal. How it works: Ev­ery Fish­peo­ple Seafood’s prod­uct has a batch code that brings you straight to the source to see which river, which fish­er­man and which meth­ods were used in your catch. In­put the batch code on the com­pany’s web­page with a sim­ple click.

Try: Fish­peo­ple Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit ($10, fish­peo­ple­ An­other Su­per­star to Look out For:

Nur­ture Ranch Trace­able Grass Fed Beef Ten­der­loin ($29 per lb, nur­tur­

This 2018 NEXTY Award win­ner prom­ises beef from one cow, from birth to slaugh­ter. Cer­ti­fied by the Amer­i­can Grass­fed As­so­ci­a­tion, the track­ing code also lets you see the an­i­mal’s his­tory, in­clud­ing its ge­net­ics, health met­rics and the spe­cific grasses grazed.

Cer­ti­fied B Corp en­sures that com­pa­nies are pre­serv­ing the planet, help­ing their com­mu­ni­ties and con­sid­er­ing em­ploy­ees’ well-be­ing.

Nur­ture Ranch pro­vides cus­tomers with a dy­namic tracker tool for added proof points.

Kate Gea­gan, MS, RD, is an award-win­ning di­eti­tian and in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized leader in sus­tain­able eat­ing and nu­tri­tion. She is the au­thor of Go Green, Get Lean: Trim Your Waist­line with the Ul­ti­mate Low Car­bon Foot­print Diet, and she’s reg­u­larly ap­peared on The Dr. Oz Show and Katie Couric’s show Katie.

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