Transparency is the new buzz word. Everywhere you look - you’ll find it mentioned. Recently, a Nation’s Restaurant News article on “What America Eats” (September 14, 2015) opened with discussion of the consumer wanting more. “What a brand stands for, where the ingredients come from, and how the food is prepared.” Transparency is key. In a Wall Street Journal feature, “Guest Voices: Labels Aside, Companies Need Transparent Supply Chains” (August 27, 2015), Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Alexis Bateman makes a case for supply chain transparency. With growing consumer awareness, “businesses should understand that pressure to improve supply chain transparency will continue to increase.”
Although transparency is a hot topic in today’s food industry, talk around what it means for a supply chain is narrow. Much of the focus to-date is on where raw materials are grown or sourced (country of origin, organic, natural, non-GMO, antibiotic-free) and under what conditions they are processed (fair labor practices, environmental and social responsibility). These things are all essential and questions your brand should be able to answer. But are you taking into consideration the importance of transparency in the movement of these goods from field to fork? Imagine having the most pristine products, but no transparency to them as they move throughout your supply chain network. There could be hundreds, if not thousands of warehousing and transportation partners operating in your supply chain, invisibly. Consumers aren’t clamoring for transparency in this way yet, but they will. Will you be ready to respond?