Food Makers Can Benefit from Consumer Demand
For Organic Products
By Severin Weiss

Seismic shifts in consumer-buying trends have created immense pressure for recipe-based food and beverage manufacturers. To thrive, manufacturers must expertly navigate new sales and marketing channels. Their research and development teams must prioritize an ever-growing list of dietary requirements and health trends.

One of the most important trends today is the popularity of organic products. These products represent clean, sustainably produced foods. Demand for organic products among shoppers continues to climb. In fact, U.S. organic sales reached a milestone $49.4 billion. This is an increase of 6.4 percent from the year before, signaling this trend is here to stay.

Demand for organic products is part of a larger expectation among consumers who are increasingly health conscious. Many shoppers will not purchase consumables without access to comprehensive, accurate product information. People demand to know if antibiotics or hormones were fed to their poultry, beef or chicken, as well as if the production process was eco-friendly and mindful of carbon emissions.

Consumer interest in such information is undeniable, and shoppers seek to educate themselves regarding ingredient sourcing, pesticides and more. Shoppers have made lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce their environmental footprint and eat healthier. Now, they expect their favorite food and beverage brands to follow suit – and fast.

Food and beverage manufacturers interested in lasting CPG success must find a permanent solution to broader food transparency expectations. The most trustworthy and innovation solution lies in data – specifically product lifecycle management (PLM) and master data process solutions.

Track-and-Trace Transparency

A recent study found that today’s consumers prefer clean foods – no chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavoring, pesticides or additives. This may seem obvious, but products that can assure consumers of their organic status have a distinct competitive edge over the competition.

However, most savvy shoppers no longer trust advertising and will not simply accept branding as truth. If a manufacturer's environmental practices are not plainly stated on the product label, consumers factor this lack of comprehensive information into their purchasing decisions and buying habits.

A common objection to adding eco-friendly information to product labels is compliance concerns. Another hurdle for food and beverage manufacturers is the fear that shoppers will turn away from products that have fewer product images or nutritional information. But whether decision makers are focused on overcrowding product labels or managing relationships with regulatory agencies, the reality is that they must modify their product labels to better reflect the information shoppers want, such as organic certifications.

But engineering comprehensive, effective product labels is nearly impossible for manufacturers that still rely on manual, pen-and-paper strategies or even digital spreadsheets.

Conversely, PLM systems empower manufacturers to make quick changes to their product labels and to satisfy shopper demand for more product information. Full transparency and traceability allow recipe-based food and beverage manufacturers to communicate their non-GMO, hormone-free, sustainable and eco-friendly practices with every product label, bringing this information front and center no matter where consumers choose to shop.

Benefits of PLM Solutions

Innovative, end-to-end PLM process solutions not only help recipe-based food and beverage manufacturers deliver more transparency into product aspects like organic and antibiotic-free, but the technology also allows manufacturers to shore up their sustainability practices throughout the entire manufacturing and production process. Manufacturers armed with innovative PLM technology can leverage and employ data as a strategic, valuable asset.

Consider a few of the improvements PLM process solutions power:

Identify manufacturing practices for environmental improvement: A common misconception among recipe-based food and beverage manufacturers is that their worst environmental impacts are transportation related. This is simply not true. Industry leaders and successful manufacturers must consider the negative environmental impact their plant practices produce, such as energy emissions.

It can be daunting to make manufacturing changes that result in eco-friendly products that consumers love. However, a trusted, agile product development system gives food and beverage manufacturers data-driven insights into each step of the process for transforming raw ingredients into shelf-ready products (upstream and downstream). This data empowers manufacturers to diagnose less than stellar environmental practices and make improvements over time.

Increase ROI for current and future product lines: When an innovative PLM process solution is in place, manufacturers enhance their production efforts with the tools required to capture eco-friendly status from day one. This practice is especially important for food and beverage manufacturers that engineer recipes with multiple ingredients. Technology allows everyone along the supply chain to track and adjust materials, which avoids complications in product labels as manufacturers take on new standards or recipes.

End-to-end PLM process solutions and technological tools help manufacturers make quick improvements. PLM technologies gather data about a manufacturer’s current roster of products and deliver insights that will improve recipes. This is especially helpful as brands introduce more organic ingredients to existing recipes.

Full traceability and comprehensive transparency are top loyalty drivers among shoppers. But equally important, PLM technology ensures manufacturers put their best products forward with packaging and labels that speak to the sensibilities of modern shoppers – like organic interests.

Innovative PLM solutions set food and beverage manufacturers up to successfully introduce products to market quickly, safely and sustainably, ensuring they can easily adapt to – and benefit from – evolving consumer expectations.

Severin Weiss is CEO of SpecPage, a provider of digital solutions for the recipe-based manufacturing industry.

CPG VIEWPOINTS             
                                                                   Early October 2018