All posts by Krista Gervon

Krista is the Solutions Marketing Manager at 1WorldSync. Her efforts focus on 1WorldSync Solutions for Transparency & Compliance, across all industries.

Teal Pumpkins aren’t a Trick, but a Sign of Safe Treats

As a kid, there was no holiday quite like Halloween. The crisp fall weather, the decorations, the parties, the costumes and of course, an evening spent trick-or-treating. We’d navigate the neighborhood with precision, focusing on the houses that gave out full size treats by the handful. And like any smart spy, we’d steer clear of those houses offering raisins and left over Valentine conversation hearts.

Halloween today remains the holiday for kids. There’s still the thrill of sorting through a candy-filled bag of goodies, trading for our faves (hello Kit-Kats) and negotiating with parents on just how much candy we could eat before bedtime. But times have changed and so have children’s (and parents’) wants and needs, especially related to allergens, nutritional requirements and other health concerns.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project. Inspired by a local awareness activity by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), it was launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) in 2014 to promote food allergy awareness, peer inclusion and community building. Homes with teal pumpkins sitting outside their front door is a clear sign to trick-or-treaters that non-food treats, such as glow sticks, pencils or small toys, will be among the treats to choose from. The intent is to provide children with allergies or health issues the ability to enjoy the fun and tradition of trick-or-treating, without the feeling that they will come home empty-handed.

Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project, helping to create a safer, more inclusive Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.

1WorldSync keeps a pulse on these market shifts and understands that major brands have many demands from their consumers. 1WorldSync solutions and capabilities make it possible to meet these demands, allowing consumers to make informed decisions regarding their purchases, health & well-being. Find out more about how we can help your business.

Here are some great ideas from the folks at the “Teal Pumpkin Project” on how everyone can become involved:

  • Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate that you ‘re handing out non-food treats.
  • Provide non-food treat options for trick-or-treaters, such as small toys.
  • Display a free printable sign or premium poster from FARE to explain the meaning of your teal pumpkin.
  • Make a donation to support the Teal Pumpkin Project and receive a free gift.

Happy National School Lunch Week!

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week (NSLW) is a week-long celebration of the school lunch program. Every October, schools across the country participate in National School Lunch Week celebrations, reminding students, parents and communities that a healthy school lunch helps students learn, grow and achieve. Teachers and students celebrate in their cafeterias every year with decorations, costumes (dressing up like fruits and veggies!), special menus (international flavors) and events (chili cook-offs, bake sales and more).

But it’s become far more than a celebration and has evolved into community awareness and education.  From students making healthier choices to improved academic performance, nutrition education can benefit the whole school and family communities. For example, students bring home food samples and printed menus to share with family members, providing additional visibility and transparency into their school lunches and also encourages parents to make equally healthy meals at home.

That’s why the NSLW is so important. This year’s theme, “Show Your Spirit,” is about getting excited about the benefits of consuming wholesome, healthy school lunches—fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

Here’s what just a few of our nation’s schools are doing this week:

Knoxville, Iowa:

Schools in Knoxville, Iowa serve a wide variety of fruits & veggies, available at Salad and  Garden Bars, & fresh fruit carts open at every school during lunch. In addition, a grab & go lunch option named the Panther Power Pack is available daily for students to purchase at Knoxville High School. Nearly all of the baked goods served are made from scratch & baked fresh daily!

San Angelo, TX:

Schools in San Antonio, Texas recognize National School Lunch Week with the theme  “Vote for a Winning Lunch.” Student-made posters and weekly menus adorn the cafeteria to promote voting and healthy nutrition throughout the week.Parents, students and school officials all cast  ballots for their favorite school lunch and show that healthier choices are critical to feeling good and succeeding in school

Marietta, GA:

Cafeterias in Marietta City Schools will roll out new menus featuring Greek, Jamaican and Thai-inspired cuisine. With hopes that the healthy-eating habits continue at home, Harrison said the district uses name-brand food products so students can recognize the healthy food in the grocery store.

Want to learn more about how 1WorldSync helps with school lunches, nutrition and transparency?  Read “Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch” and “This Year’s Back to School Checklist Includes Transparency & Traceability.”

The OG of Product Information Transparency: The Mason Jar

A picture is worth a thousand words. But who needs words anymore, likes and shares are where it’s at! Take for instance, a picture of an organic, plant-based lunch in a mason jar. It’s hard to beat the layered combo of seasonal veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, all topped off with a vibrantly colored dressing.

Mason jars stepped back into the spotlight a few years ago and show no signs of overstaying their welcome. Once reserved exclusively for pickles and country-fair jams, they have become ubiquitous props of the social media set. Practically overnight, they’ve become the Instagrammer and blogger’s favorite mode of transport for every meal worth photographing.

Breakfast parfaits, gluten-free soups, cold-pressed juices and oven-baked casseroles have transformed the crafter’s favorite container into an adult lunchbox with the amazing ability to make even the simplest salad look like a work of art. The jars are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to transport. It’s no coincidence that this ‘transparent’ lunch box has closely paralleled the modern food industry’s omni-channel and transparency driven market. Let’s be honest, consumers don’t only want transparency, but equally as important, an easy way to access the information from any device and the ability to purchase products from wherever they are at any time of day.

And as we’ve talked about often, consumers demand to know more about what is going into their food. That plays into this very transparent movement: people want to feel good about what they’re eating, which goes beyond just what is in a product. Information such as the country of origin, animal safety and treatment, and if the packaging is environmentally friendly have all become major factors in the purchase decision.

“People are increasingly demanding to know where their food comes from, how and where it’s grown and why certain ingredients are used. They now expect this kind of information to be accessible at the touch of a button. The question is no longer if companies should disclose the details of food ingredients, but how.” Dave Stangis Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Campbell Soup Company

So while there aren’t any food labels on the iconic mason jar, you can be sure that the ingredient labels of the foods used to fill them have been dually scrutinized and given the official seal of approval.  The expansion and availability of food labels have made a real difference in providing families across the globe with the information they need in order to make healthy choices

Fortunately, resources and additional product labeling, such as the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution, are providing consumers with many different ways to ‘see through’ the specific ingredient list, just as they can ‘see-through’ the layers of their delicious lunchtime layered taco salad. And in the spirit of sharing, we’ve included the delicious recipe. Now, what’s not to like about that?

Mason Jar Recipes (courtesy Pinterest)

It’s Showtime: It’s Time for YOU to Discover 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice

Are you ready to get your food products discovered by more buyers? Or Are you ready to diversify your product offerings and convert more customers?

1WorldSync presents Showcase for Foodservice!

Q1: What’s the main purpose of the 1WorldSync Showcase for  Foodservice

1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice is a B2B community based application and digital marketplace where food buyers can discover products to sell in their stores/restaurants. On the flip side, sellers can decide to showcase some or all of their food products to be discovered by existing or new buyers or app developers, worldwide. By creating this visibility of products, 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice allows you to connect globally and grow your sales!

Q2: What are some of the benefits for suppliers who participate?

1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice allows foodservice manufacturers and suppliers to highlight their products to the long tail of foodservice distributors. This will allow new revenue opportunities and lower cost to serve by ensuring accurate content is readily available to customers and third parties alike.

  • Provide visualization to the entire Foodservice community to search and view your products
  • Reduce manual process of publishing to individual foodservice community recipients
  • Eliminate the need for recipients to provide outdated product content to sell your products
  • Allow recipients access to your product content – resulting in new sales
  • Provide one version of the truth with accurate, up-to-date product content
  • Enhance relationships with your trading partners

Q3: How does the 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice benefit a Foodservice distributor?

It’s a great way for a distributor or operator to feature additional products for purchase by their consumers, especially as we head into the holiday shopping season.

  • Discover and sell new products
  • Connect to thousands of global suppliers
  • Diversify your product offering and convert more customers

Q4: How do you sign up for the 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice?

It’s easy! Call 866-280-4013 or click today! Take a tour of the app and fill out the online form to learn more! A 1WorldSync representative to contact you so you can get started right away.

Take a tour and get started with 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice today!

The Organic (R)evolution

What may seem like a revolution has really been a slow and steady renaissance. Certainly before the 1920s, all agriculture was generally organic.  But then along came modern techniques, chemical pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers leading to the rapid dismissal of organic farming methods for many decades.

A quick fast forward to the ‘be natural’ approach of the 1960s and 1970s, and consumers were suddenly interested in health, nutrition and environmental conservation. But organic foods were still not in the mainstream (think hippies and off-the-beaten-path health food stores) and despite the audience buying, were expensive and exclusionary.  Conversely, most Americans at that time were enjoying inexpensive TV dinners, Hamburger Helper and casseroles made from canned soups.

By the 1990s, organic foods spread to the corners of specialty supermarkets and were the cornerstone of newer food emporiums, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  Unfortunately, organic food costs were nearly double or triple their non-organic counterparts. And aside from the expense, availability was also limited.  Not every neighborhood boasted a Gelson’s or Bristol Farms. Going organic was for the few and the elite.

Today, the organic industry has moved beyond a niche market. Organic products now occupy prime shelf space in the big chain supermarkets, mainstream retailers and are much more accessible and affordable. Food giants like General Mills and Kellogg have entered the organic game and many small organic food companies have grown into large businesses. For example, ‘O – Organics’ just launched a new ad campaign with the main message being “We believe that great tasting organic food should be available to everyone and sold everywhere at a great value.”

In fact, the “booming U.S. organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales hitting a new benchmark of $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2016 Organic Industry Survey.

So clearly, it’s not just hippies and health food nuts jumping on the organic train. Today, according to the OTA, “It is the face of America. The demographics of the organic consumer are not any different than the demographics of America.”

For retailers, the growing organic market continually increases the potential for more sales. However, it can be hard to lure new customers in and keep them as your customers. Industry trends have shown that to gain more customers, providing consumers with the information they demand is the key. This begins with offering the products consumers want, which can be discovered within 1WorldSync Showcase; and requires transparency of product information in the form of an easily accessible standardized, digital label, such as the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution.

1WorldSync keeps a pulse on all consumer and market trends so that your business can continue to thrive while maintaining the brand loyalty it has established over the years, whether it began pre- or post-organic renaissance.

Discoverability, the Modern Matchmaker of B2C Relationships

Fancy an artisanal vanilla-spiked ginger-ale?  What about sun dried tomato cottage cheese?  Have a hankering for fresh poke spiked with birch water?  Or perhaps your tastes run a little more old-fashioned, say whole bean pasta, rolled ice cream and rainbow flecked cappuccino.  All real, quite delicious food trends from the summer of 2016.  Consumers want the unusual, the interesting and the Instagram-worthy.  It’s all good and it’s all delicious and it’s what consumers are shopping for.

Interestingly, many of these items are from small food suppliers/brands. And they are flourishing, encroaching on market share and gaining national distribution as shoppers reach for products that tout themselves as novel, local, rarefied or containing better ingredients. One reason for the success of many small food suppliers and brands, is that along with distributors – some sell through etailers, such as Amazon; other small companies sell directly to the consumer.  (According to the NY Times: “Total sales are still dominated by big brands, but brands lost market share in 42 of 54 categories, from baby food to yogurt, over the last five years as new products gained.”)

We’ll state the obvious, but food products – from small and large food companies alike – must get in front of as many consumers as possible, whether on physical and/or virtual shelves.  And in order to do this effectively, the focus must be on providing the retailer with as much product information as possible.

This is exactly where 1WorldSync can help. 1WorldSync has developed Showcase for Foodservice, a B2B community based application where you can decide to showcase some or all of your products so that they can be discovered by existing and new buyers or application developers, worldwide! And since 1WorldSync has well-established and longstanding partnerships with the largest foodservice distributors across the globe, chances are pretty darn good that your products will be easily discovered, increasing your brand awareness and of course, your bottom line!

 

A Virtual Trip Down the Grocery Aisle – How Consumer Shopping Trends are Shifting

Got the list?  Check.  Got the coupons?  Check.  Grab the kids and off you go for a thrilling ride to the local grocery store.  Up and down the aisles, comparing labels, mentally calculating totals and if you’re lucky, you’ll be unloading those groceries about 2 hours later.  Sounds like a fun Saturday.  Fortunately, for many, there’s some relief in the form of online groceries and it’s revolutionizing the way people shop.

And while technology has brought the supermarket to consumers’ fingertips online, there is also a digital wave happening within the aisles of the store, as we see mobile become part of that same shopping experience.

Really, you ask?  Take a look at some recent stats.

  • Nearly one-third of shoppers say they would use various forms of digital technology if it were offered at their grocery store. The most desired offering shoppers would like to see is an app that provides the ability to order items not available in store and the ability to scan items as they shop in order to bypass checkout.
  • Thirty-six percent of shoppers are interested in using an app or web portal to preorder prepared foods they can pick up at the store.
  • More than 40% of shoppers report buying grocery purchases online at least once a month.

Since most shoppers are never far from their smartphones, online ordering is easier. Plus, there simply are more ways to shop online for food and other household products. Certainly, digital changes are disrupting the way consumers shop and eat. Healthy living products, including dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids and metabolites, as well as cosmetics, organic body and personal care products, pet products, sports nutrition and health foods are more readily available.  And just by virtue of the wide availability means that comparison shopping (prices, ingredients, etc.) is far easier.  That’s great news for consumers who are busier, pickier and far more demanding than ever.

The CPG and Foodservice industry landscapes continue to transform and grow and the demand for transparency of product information is more important than ever before. 1WorldSync solutions for transparency and compliance, such as the SmartLabel solution, can help those businesses meet these demands, regulations and ultimately, free up those crowded grocery store aisles.

This Year’s Back to School Checklist Includes Transparency & Traceability

Samantha is allergic to dairy, so please be sure she isn’t served milk! Luke has a nut allergy, so it’s critical that he avoids all foods with peanuts.  Harry is allergic to milk and eggs, so he has to steer clear of foods with either of these ingredients (think cupcakes, cookies and other treats).

Welcome to the lunchroom – the thunderous meeting ground of lunch tables separated by food allergies.  There’s the “No Peanut” table, “No Milk” table, “No Gluten” table and for some schools, even a “No GMO” table.  Have we become a society of extremely picky eaters?  Well, pickiness aside, studies show that food allergies affect up to 2 1/2 million children. Six foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions to foods in children: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy. Aside from peanut and tree nut allergy (which are considered life-long), most children will outgrow their food allergies.  But until then, parents and students remain vigilant and cautious in managing those allergies to stay healthy (and alive).

That level of vigilance has translated to greater national awareness and standard school guidelines via the CDC, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), USDA and US Department of Education.  So with parents and students requiring much more transparency and traceability, does your organization have a trusted way to provide them with nutritional information in a fast and easily accessible format? Can your organization easily share that info with healthcare professionals, parents, and government agencies?  If not, don’t you get schooled!  Instead, consider the following SIX to do’s:

  1. Establish repeatable global processes and content for product information compliance and transparency
  2. Manage your product information to address Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Health, Safety & Environment policies
  3. Address compliance with specific global transparency initiatives, such as GMA SmartLabel or the EU 1169 Food Regulation.
  4. Capture, store, manage and distribute product data, information and content in accordance with global regulations – e.g. Hazmat, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSAI), Reach/GHS
  5. Leverage global consulting, content validation and verification services for chemical ingredients and harmful substances.
  6. Establish repeatable processes for material safety data sheets (SDS) and digital as well as physical handling and distribution of compliance documentation.

Fortunately, this is exactly where 1WorldSync can help.  Our proven solutions can help protect and grow your sales to discerning consumers, by offering total product information transparency on all channels.  Even schools now have the ability to provide full nutritional transparency to the right people, at the right time, in the right format. 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice is a boundless marketplace that allows you to discover and publish products, and more importantly product information, in a standardized, easily accessible, digital format…and ensuring accurate nutritional information such as ingredients, allergens, and serving size.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice.

Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch

The sunscreen bottles are nearly empty.  The luggage is stored in the garage (and if you’re lucky, the in-laws safely on their way back home).  We’ve binged watched every show in our queue and eaten the last of the season’s crop of good peaches.  Summer is this close to being in the rear view mirror.

Yes, and right around this time of year, as we vacuum out the beach sand, crushed potato chips and summer-old food wrappers from the inside of our cars, we are officially in ‘back to school’ mode.  For some it’s cause for cheering, (the kids go back to school after all), for others it’s a reminder of the long list of upcoming to-dos and calendar commitments (think soccer practice, school plays and scout meetings).  And aside from the obvious back to school prep work of clothes, books and school supplies, there’s the added chore of the daily lunch routine.

Are you going to stock up on lunch box supplies or will your kids buy lunch? Chances are that you’ll be one of approximate 60% of parents who opt for their school’s lunch program.  After all, parents are busy, kids are picky.  But fortunately, school lunches have become tastier and healthier.  In fact, a good deal healthier.    Most school districts now offer healthier food and beverages in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria lines. Fruits, vegetables, water, and hundreds of nutritious snack products now fill these venues instead of the candy, sodas, and other unhealthy items that were commonplace less than a decade ago, mostly because of consumer demand and updated regulations.

Of course, that same demand is driving a level of clarity and transparency into what their kids are eating.  They ask questions and read labels.  So what exactly are parents looking for?

  1. Hidden Trans Fats

Over the next couple of years, food companies must phase out partially hydrogenated oils – a major source of artery-clogging trans fats – under a recent directive from the Food and Drug Administration. Until then, consumers are checking food labels for the word “hydrogenated.” If an ingredient list includes this kind of oil, but the trans fat amount reads zero, watch out.

  1. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Over 64 countries now require GMO labeling. Though studies have not determined that GMOs are harmful to eat, many consumers are concerned: limited research into their safety, a rise in “superweeds” that resist the herbicides used on GMOs, and, consequently, more overall pesticide use.  So consumers are voraciously reading labels and looking for ‘USDA-certified organic’ or the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal on the label.

  1. Wood pulp

That is not a typo.  Wood pulp is often lumped under the heading of ‘added fiber.’   So again, consumers are combing food labels for “cellulose” and “cellulose powder”.

  1. Allergens

Studies show that 16%–18% of children with food allergies have had a reaction from accidentally eating food allergens while at school. More than 170 foods are known to cause IgE mediated food allergies. In the US alone, eight of these foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Fortunately, federal law requires food labels to clearly identify the food allergen source of all foods and ingredients.

School organizations such as North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) are beginning to leverage the increased amount of available product information as well as detailed nutrition labels to mitigate the risk of allergic reactions among students. By utilizing the 1WorldSync Digital Catalog of product information, updated straight from the source, NCDPI is able to comply with USDA federal regulation for meal pattern requirements and easily distribute it this information to parents, students, and even healthcare professionals upon request.

Whether or not students choose to pack or bring their lunch this year, one thing is for certain: their decision will depend on the amount of available product information. It is clear that consumer demand for transparency far exceeds just the Consumer Packaged Goods and Grocery industries, but also extends to any organization that distributes and sells their products to schools.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync solutions can help the Foodservice industry provide product information transparency.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Product Information

Nothing symbolizes summer in America more than the fourth of July. Barbecues, fireworks and flags waving in the breeze are everywhere you turn. The US of A celebrates her 240th birthday this year and honestly America, you don’t look a day over 220! Seriously, have you had work done?? America the Beautiful is taking health and wellness more seriously than ever before. From what we eat, use to care for our homes and bodies and almost any other consumer product you can think of, access to product information and transparency rules the decision-making process. Let’s discuss how the tradition of Independence Day has transformed over the past generation and what the possibilities are for the future, shall we?!

Barbecues! This tradition is strong and there is no way anyone will ever pull dad away from his grill or pry the tongs out of his hands. What has changed is what gets put on that grill. You may find that nitrate-filled hot dogs and pre-cut hamburger patties are a thing of the past. As people become more concerned with things like preservatives, carcinogens, and animal cruelty, you’re more likely to be served organic chicken sausage, grass-fed beef burgers and of course a vegetarian option like a black bean burger or deviled eggs (cage-free of course!). Beyond just ingredients, food safety and traceability continue to be of high importance and Uncle Sam will only continue to demand more product information from the foodservice industry.

Whether it’s beaches, parks or just your backyard, summer gatherings all (hopefully) have one thing in common – good ol’ Mr. Sun. We all want to have fun in the sun, but without the sting of a sunburn later on. What used to be a simple decision between SPF 15 or 30 has now become an endless list of choices: spray or lotion, safe for children, face or body, waterproof or water resistant, and on and on and ON! I just don’t want to feel sticky and disgusting all day, kthanksbye! But we live and we learn; from premature wrinkles to melanoma, the sun is not to messed with and the public has made it very clear to brand owners that they demand full transparency for sun protection products – and boy did they deliver, yeesh!

No fourth of July celebration would be complete without the iconic firework display. Back in my day, we would set these babies off right in our backyard. How times have changed. This pastime is now, for the most part, completely illegal, but honestly, what were we thinking? “Hey I have a great idea, how about after we drink all day in the sun (sans protection!), we set off some explosives!?” Super smart #eyeroll. Now we all congregate in a wide open space where we can SAFELY view the fireworks from afar without the worry of them backfiring or exploding in our faces. We have also come to know that these loud noises are not so fun for our furry friends, so we keep them out of residential neighborhoods as well. If you can’t make it out to your community fireworks but still want the essence of the holiday, stick to harmless sparklers :)

1WorldSync understands that consumer demands drive business. The more information they have, the more information they want, so companies are only going to have to provide more information in as many ways as possible in the shortest amount of time. 1WorldSync solutions for transparency and compliance, such as the SmartLabel solution,  can help your business to meet these demands and regulations, now and in the future! America seems to be moving in a positive direction to keep ourselves and our families safe and informed, but the only constant in life is change, so in another 20 years we’ll look back on a whole host of new advancements and trends. So, whatever your plans are for July 4th weekend, remember you have the freedom to choose products that meet your standards!