There is a huge disparity in perception between consumers and F&B industry decision makers about the safety, source and quality of food that are supplied in the market, according to a latest survey conducted by Zebra Technologies.
The survey said almost seven in 10 (69%) decision-makers say the industry is prepared to manage food traceability and transparency, but only 35% of consumers agree. Furthermore, only 13% of consumers felt the industry was extremely prepared today to manage food traceability and be transparent about how food travels through the supply chain, whereas 27% of decision-makers reported feeling this way. Unfortunately, this is not just a short-term challenge as approximately half (51%) of surveyed food and beverage decision-makers said meeting consumer expectations will remain a challenge in five years.
“The F&B industry in Southeast Asia is already taking measures to ensure more transparency in the supply chain. However, our study found that a lot more work still needs to be done in order to increase consumer confidence and improve food traceability in this region,” said Fang-How, Lim, regional director for Southeast Asia, Zebra Technologies. “Due to the digital world we live in today, businesses have more information available to them. Businesses should leverage this and provide consumers access to the same information, which in turn can increase consumers’ faith in their food sources.”
Technology can close gaps in F&B supply chain
One bright spot identified in the research is the role that technology can play in closing these gaps in both the short- and long-term. An overwhelming majority (90%) of decision-makers acknowledged that investments in traceability-focused solutions will provide them with a competitive advantage by enabling them to meet the expectations of consumers.
When asked about the top benefits that technology-based track and trace solutions would provide, nearly six in 10 decision-makers cited risk reductions with proper handling, transportation and storage and tracking product perishability. 41% of industry decision-makers reported RFID tags improve food traceability within the supply chain more than any other technology, yet only 31% currently use them within their own organisations.
Mobile computers and tablets, mobile barcode label printers, scanners and specialty labels and tags will also be key enablers in winning consumer trust and delivering more transparent information to consumers.
Approximately 90% of surveyed industry decision-makers expect to use rugged handheld mobile computers with scanners, barcode scanners and mobile barcode label printers within the next five years to digitally manage and track food products and related information.
Food contamination is consumers’ biggest concern
The survey entitled “Food Safety Supply Chain Vision Study” included approximately 4,957 consumers and 462 food and beverage industry decision-makers in the manufacturing, transportation & logistics, retail and wholesale distribution markets in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe who were interviewed in January 2020 by Azure Knowledge Corporation.
The study highlights the views of consumers as well as food and beverage industry decision-makers worldwide from distribution and warehouses to grocery stores and restaurants around safety, traceability and transparency.
Some key findings for Asia Pacific are:
- Nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers listed illness and deaths caused by contamination as their biggest concern for risks posed by the food supply chain.
- 93% of surveyed food and beverage decision-makers believe their companies have an ethical responsibility to ensure the safe handling and management of food.
- 89% of industry decision-makers believe investments in traceability-focused solutions would provide their companies with a competitive advantage.
Meanwhile, Aik Jin, Tan, vertical solutions lead at Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, said the company has a portfolio of solutions that “transform the food supply chain from farm to fork”.
“Businesses can choose from basic track and trace solutions by pairing up of the likes of the ZQ511 and ZQ521 mobile printers with the CS60 Series companion scanner for barcode printing and scanning. Otherwise, they can opt for RFID solutions by pairing up the likes of the ZQ511 and ZQ521 RFID mobile printers that produce RFID-enabled labels with handheld RFID readers and RFID-enabled scanners. By doing so, businesses will be empowered with real-time visibility that takes their track and trace efforts to a whole new level,” they said.