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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has announced the launch of SmartLabel—a technology that will enable consumers to have access to detailed information about thousands of retail products. The new program, created by manufacturers and retailers, enables consumers to get additional details about products by scanning a bar code or doing an online search to reach a landing page with information on ingredients and other attributes of a wide range of food, beverage, pet care, household, and personal care products. More than 30 U.S. food, beverage, and consumer products companies are already committed to using SmartLabel, including: ConAgra Foods, Campbell Soup, Hershey, J.M. Smucker Company, General Mills, McCormick, and Unilever.
This transformative new program, created by manufacturers and retailers, enables consumers to get additional details about products by scanning a bar code or doing an online search to reach a landing page with information on ingredients and other attributes of a wide range of food, beverage, pet care, household and personal care products. SmartLabel™ will provide consumers at the touch of finger all the information they want to know about what they are purchasing. It is designed so that consumers can easily have access to a wide variety of information but can hone in on a question they have on an ingredient or product in just one or two clicks.
“People want more information and are asking more questions about products they buy, use and consume, and SmartLabel™ puts detailed information right at their fingertips,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “SmartLabel™ is a modern technology that will change how people shop and will help them get answers to questions they have on the products they purchase when they want that information.”
SmartLabel™ makes it easier than ever for shoppers to find information about products they use and consume. SmartLabel™ will be available on an array of food, beverage, personal care, household and pet care products with information on hundreds of attributes covering thousands of products, including nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party certifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions and company/brand information, along with other pertinent information about the product.
A recent survey by Benenson Strategy Group found that 75 percent of consumers said they would be likely to use SmartLabel™, showing that the program will meet a consumer desire for more product information.
How SmartLabel™ Works
Each individual product in SmartLabel™ will have a specific landing page containing detailed information from the manufacturer on ingredients and other product attributes. All SmartLabel™ landing pages are organized in a similar format, with a consistent look across products, whether the consumer is looking at a gallon of ice cream or a gallon of laundry detergent.
Consumers will be able to find this detailed product information in several ways: by scanning a QR code on the package, using a web search such as through Google, Yahoo or Bing, going to a participating company’s web site, or eventually through an app. A number of retailers have said that they can help shoppers without smartphones via their customer service desk in stores. In addition, both online and brick and mortar stores are exploring ways to make SmartLabel™ more accessible to their customers such as by posting the SmartLabel™ link on their page to allow access in one click or through customer service desks.
Information through SmartLabel™ will be available instantaneously whether a consumer is in the store, at home, or work, or using a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. The information can be accessed by consumers in cities, suburbs and rural areas.
More than 30 Major Companies Already Committed to SmartLabel™
Some companies are beginning to offer products using SmartLabel™ late this year and early in 2016, with projections of nearly 30,000 total products using SmartLabel™ by the end of 2017. Early estimates indicate that within five years, more than 80 percent of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products that consumers buy will be using SmartLabel™.
More than 30 of the US major food, beverage and consumer products companies already are committed to using SmartLabel to provide detailed information about their products. These include ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Knouse Foods, Land O’Lakes, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Hershey, J.M. Smucker Company, Kellogg Company, General Mills, McCormick & Company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Wakefern Food Corp, Bruce Foods Corporation, Bumble Bee Seafoods, Ferraro USA, Flowers Foods, Reily Foods Company, Rich Products Corporation, Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., Ahold USA, Topco LLC, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Pharmavite LLC, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
“People’s relationship with food has changed dramatically and consumers now want to know more about their food, such as where it came from and what went into making it,” said J.P. Bilbrey, who is chairman, president and CEO The Hershey Company and chairman of GMA’s board of directors. “SmartLabel™ creates a way for consumers to get unprecedented access to information about what is in their food. This is what real food transparency is about.”
“As more and more consumers are looking for responsible and sustainable brands, SmartLabel™ can link consumers to information about how a brand integrates sustainability into its products’ ingredients and lifecycle,” said Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America, a leading marketer of U.S. personal care and food brands. “SmartLabel™ is an important tool for brands to provide more product information, helping build trust with consumers who are increasingly mobile and online.”
Overall, companies are projecting that, by the end of 2017, they will disclose via SmartLabel™ whether 20,000 food products do, may or do not contain ingredients sourced from genetically engineered (GE) crops, commonly known as GMOs. Current estimates indicate that number could triple once a uniform national standard is set for GMOs.
GMA and a wide range of agriculture and business groups are urging Congress to pass legislation setting a uniform national standard for GMO labeling to replace a patchwork of state labeling mandates that vary from state to state.
GMA SmartLabel Research Methodology
This research was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group. The interviews took place from November 10th – 15th, 2015 and included 902 interviews with a national sample of consumers who are the primary food and grocery shoppers in their households. All interviews were conducted over the internet. The margin of error for the entire data set is ±3.19% at the 95% confidence level.