Traceability: The rise of the conscious consumer

In today’s age, consumers are now looking to extend their consideration for the world beyond their own households and are adopting small changes in behaviour. The rise in the number of dedicated food-related campaigns such as British Food Fortnight and Seafood Week highlights the need for companies to support products that are responsibly sourced in order to appeal to a wider market. This comes down to the rise of the conscious consumer, as brands and retailers are now expected to provide top-quality products that are also sustainable from a social and environmental point of view. 

What is traceability?

Traceability applies to all businesses and within the catering industry it relates to the traceability of food sources. A traceable food source is one that can be tracked through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Why is traceability important?

For businesses that operate in the food and catering sector, traceability is vitally important for food safety, to prove legality and for verifying sustainability. Seafood is one of the most globally traded food commodities, which means that tracking its movements is essential.  

Seafood traceability and labelling regulations are in place to ensure that seafood can be tracked throughout the supply chain and that it is described accurately to consumers. It is required for the purposes of general food law, fisheries control and fish marketing.

This is important for customer safety as tracing fish stocks effectively allows fishing practices to remain sustainable and reduces the environmental and social impacts. A lack of clear product origin information could be detrimental to any business. 

The benefits of traceability for businesses

Increases customer engagement 

Implementing a traceability strategy and making it a key part of your ethos can increase customer engagement. Adopting a strategy allows your business to build stronger relationships with customers by meeting their expectations for fully traceable products and making them feel more deeply connected with your brand values. 

Increases reliability 

Traceability is not only beneficial for giving your customers peace of mind about the food they are eating, but it also improves your company’s reputation. This is likely to result in higher customer retention rates as brands that are trustworthy are likely to benefit from repeat custom.

Increases the credibility of food safety

Having a strategy for traceability in place can also help to quickly locate any problematic issues. For example, it can help to reduce the chances of people getting sick from foodborne illnesses, most of which are caused by contamination from growing, harvesting, manufacturing, packing and shipping. 

Strengthens the relationship with local producers

Often the easiest way to ensure your stock is traceable is to use local producers. Using local products can help to strengthen your relationships with consumers, particularly when there is a consumer demand for locally sourced products.

By Adrian Tweedale

Adrian is owner of three award-winning fish and chip outlets in Lincolnshire, has built a trusted customer base during the 31 years he has been in business in the county. The family-run firm is also an accredited member of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an organisation which supports sustainable fishing for future generations.

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