A recent study by Label Insight found that nearly all consumers (94 percent) are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers full transparency about its products. That means food and beverage manufacturers must deliver with every label and package or risk losing wallet share.

However, too few have implemented the technology required to improve transparency. In a world where consumers demand more transparency than ever before, food and beverage brands can’t shy away from data applications that enhance processing, packaging and labeling. Rather, product manufacturers must seek seamless, data-driven solutions as an investment in their product quality—and ultimately their customer relationships.

Fortunately, food manufacturers can upgrade their product lifecycle management strategies with the right technology to meet customer needs and master heightened regulatory requirements for traceability. the key to transparency is traceability

The reasons behind increased consumer demand for transparency are multifaceted. While some consumers have life-threatening allergies to certain ingredients, others are health conscious or have environmental concerns.

Regardless of the factors driving this demand for transparency, leaders in the recipe-based food and beverage manufacturing industry have taken steps to ensure food safety. The biggest step is improved traceability, which is the ability to track any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Quality assurance in food safety supply chain management can be a daunting task because, simply put, humans make errors. Because errors are expected, product traceability is crucial for food manufacturers and customers who seek transparency. The only way a brand or manufacturer can be sure that a product contains no traces of nuts, for example, is with innovative end-to-end software solutions that trace every step of that product’s production.

While some traceability is required by law in the U.S., there is an extra step that industry leaders can implement to improve traceability standards. And as customer demands for greater transparency skyrocket, government agencies are sure to impose more stringent regulations.

Clear traceability is even more critical for global food and beverage manufacturers. Most countries have unique food contact regulations, with some stricter than others. While American retailers are familiar with the FDA, and maybe even GDSN, what about legislation in other major markets like Germany, France, China and Italy?

Data management solutions are not one-size-fits-all

Product lifecycle management solutions offer proactive visibility into product development, which provides a single source of truth and traces ingredients back to their source. This helps food manufacturers achieve and maintain both product quality and regulatory compliance.

While some manufacturers may have already invested in ERP or CRM systems, these technologies often lack communication and isolate insights. Homegrown tracking systems also suffer from manual, one-off processes that create toxic environments for collaboration.

Crucial technology necessary for recipe-based food and beverage include:

  • A Holistic Perspective:  Well-rounded insights ensure compliance, manage specifications and measure the ROI of your investment. Your data management system should centralize all pertinent product information and specifications, and then allow you to update and access that data on demand—all in real time. Careful, timely record maintenance helps identify missing, contaminated and/or outdated inventory to spot non-compliance early. Working from the most up-to-date information also makes it easier to achieve long-term goals such as optimizing product design and     performance.
  • Thorough Data Management:  Satisfying consumer expectations for robust, trustworthy product information means that no piece of data can go unmanaged. Your solution must collect and record all data to guarantee accuracy and completeness. Comprehensive data management not only wins consumers’ trust, it also helps you become a better partner. Market leading systems empower all members along the supply chain (manufacturers, suppliers, retailer, etc.) to upload product-related data, update certifications and share information.

Compatibility with your existing solutions and customization options are also key for a strong data management solution. Additionally, you should look for a partner that offers full implementation, training and technical support.

But the most important characteristic to watch for is a solid commitment to getting data right.

Adhering to ever-changing food and beverage regulations requires new skills and technologies. That’s why smart manufacturers turn to comprehensive data capabilities, which demystify complex requirements, ensure superior quality and distinguish your brand as a leader in the food and beverage industry.