‘Tis the season. You romantics might know it as Valentine’s Day, but for us chocolate lovers, its chocolate month. It’s everywhere you look. Giant and small, in heart-shaped and square boxes, accompanied by various t-shirt wearing stuffed animals, and in weird and wonderful shapes (I’m looking at you chocolate heart-shaped key). For a chocolate lover like me, this has always been the most wonderful time of the year…until this year. When I found out that I have an intolerance to gluten, I was afraid it was going to put a bit of a damper on my ability to indulge in the libations of the season. Lucky for me, the U.S. FDA has a law requiring gluten-free products to be labeled, so I know exactly which chocolate heart-shaped keys I can happily enjoy, and those that I can’t. This got me thinking about my beloved chocolate, and labels, and what ingredients are in the products I know and love.
It’s that time of year again…costumes are littering the house, pumpkins on the porch, and the kids are asking “what candy are we giving out this year?!” This used to be a straight-forward question, but now we as parents are left asking “what can we give out?!” With thoughts in our heads of: what is nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, healthy and “cool”? What’s fun but also a healthy alternative to the sugar-filled, fatty options?
Our kids’ school is not a “nut-free” zone, but the school does designate certain tables as nut-free. At the same time, they are serving cookies at the lunch window, along with certain sugary beverages. So while, we’ve made strides to keep our kids safer and healthier, there are still many areas to work on.
- According to the USDA Smart Snack Final Rule, acceptable food items must have ≤ 35% calories from total fat as served and ≤ 35% of weight from total sugar as served. *
- At least 39 states currently have some kind of competitive foods standard already in place.**
- Between 1977 and 1996, the number of calories that children consumed from snacks increased by 120 calories per day.***
- There are still no federal requirements for Childhood Nutrition Labeling
- Poor nutrition effects a child’s ability to learn****
Since there are still no federal regulations forcing schools to label the food served, we as consumers and parents must gather as much knowledge as possible to help our children make the best and safest decisions when it comes to what they eat at school. Whether it’s evaluating gluten content, allergens, or ingredients, we want the information at our fingertips. Literally, whether I search online or I am shopping at my local grocery store, I want to be able to quickly and easily evaluate the food items I am putting in my physical or online shopping cart.
Thankfully, organizations like the Grocery Manufacturers Association are introducing new initiatives like SmartLabel, which seeks to standardize nutrition information available to consumers so they can make informed decisions – for our own kids and the ones that will knock at our door at the end of the month.
For Halloween…I’ve decided to give out pencils…really. Unless a child eats one, I should be safe, right?!
- Kelly Kucera, Sr. Director, Industry & Commercial Marketing
- Krista Gervon, Americas Marketing Manager
The Three Pillars Defining Our Age
In our last blog, we discussed current pressures impacting the consumer markets, including the FDA’s Public Law 111-353 through its “Food Safety Modernization Act”, as well as from other governmental and ‘watchdog’ groups’ reviewing the food industry.
But we are now living in an age that is going beyond government mandates, because whether you are in the automobile or the peanut butter business, Transparency & Trust have become ‘headline’ concerns not just for regulators but ever more, and no less importantly, for consumers. And, in light of the latest news from the automotive industry, we must now acknowledge the irrefutable reality that there are, beyond government penalties, other consequences for brand equity and the managers who manage it.
In the recent past, most business have lived in the “IT” or Information Technology era, with an emphasis on the ‘T’- the technology aspect of the collection and storage of data. Advances in technology are now pushing us toward the Information (‘I’) age or Zettabyte epoch where the capture, storage and retrieval of information, and its access to all, is virtually unlimited. In this evolving new age, the mantra is … ‘If information can be known … it will be known!’
For today’s ‘Connected Consumer’, the entire universe of information is only a click away. Social media platforms, blogs and apps are keeping everyone constantly connected. Individuals increasingly feel the need to know—and share —everything. Whether its product reviews, political opinions, a family vacation, a dinner pic, or even their innermost thoughts, people are living their lives completely out in the open, laying bare all manner of minutiae online. And, while brands are noticing and looking for new ways to create corresponding connections they, too, are being laid bare.
As a result, consumers today are personally experiencing and demanding Transparency, before giving Trust. For a brand or a business, Trust from their customers and employees is critical. Transparency, is now an information technology mechanism that allows Connected Consumers access to information that defines a certain innate dissonance which always exists between disbelief and belief. Technology and Transparency therefore combine to determine the level –and increasingly a measurable level– of ‘Trust’ that is so critical to the success of a business and a brand.
Russell Ackoff, a noted academic and business consultant, often chided his students and clients to “stop doing the wrong things righter and do the right things.” Technology, Transparency & Trust are forcing marketplace change— a change that no longer allows a business to do the wrong things righter to enhance the P&L—it is a change that requires business to do the right things.
Hail the Consumer!
As Global Vice President for the Consumer Markets, Michael Forhez, who recently joined 1WorldSync, brings 20 plus years of diversified experience in sales, marketing and management consulting. Frequently called upon to write and speak on subjects germane to the consumer markets, Michael is currently responsible for evangelizing 1WorldSync offerings within the Consumer Products and Retail sectors while engaging various stakeholders to better understand their collective requirements.
Globally, businesses are experiencing the same challenge: they need robust, trusted, accurate product information. Consumers are demanding it, trading partners are requiring it, and governments are mandating it. While meeting consumer and customer demands are certainly a driver for change, regulatory mandates with tangible repercussions for non-compliance push businesses into action.
Organizations all over the world are being driven by local, federal, and global regulations to streamline their product information distribution systems for accuracy and transparency. Its impacting multiple industries; EU1169 in the foodservice and FMCG/CPG industry, UDI in the Healthcare industry, GHS in the DIY/Hardlines industry. Organizations are being compelled to act and in the process of assessing the scope and impact, are seizing the opportunity to achieve additional benefits.
Global organizations are seeing that readying product information for regulatory compliance comes with valuable byproducts. As internal systems are evaluated and streamlined to achieve compliance, additional business benefits are being achieved; supply chains are becoming optimized for efficiency, processes for data quality and accuracy are being implemented, and e-comm initiatives are being powered and supported. Product information is becoming rich, robust, accurate and readily available to customers and consumers alike, and businesses are becoming more efficient, compliant, and transparent.
Mondelez International is a shining example of how readying product information for regulatory compliance can transform systems and enable trusted, transparent product information exchange. Their approach of implementing a single global solution across all markets not only prepared their data for EU1169 compliance, but empowered their business for critical omni-channel initiatives. Read more about how Mondelez International met their regulatory deadline and then some!
Blog originally featured in Supply & Demand Chain Executive business magazine on July 7, 2015.
Information flows quicker and easier than it ever did before. Long gone are the days when we heard about yesterday’s news in the morning paper. Asking someone for directions seems like a quaint ritual of our parents. Asking a hotel concierge for dining recommendations feels like a chore.
Blog originally featured in Supply & Demand Chain Executive business magazine on July 20, 2015.
The effects of inaccurate product information across the supply chain are tremendous, particularly in the healthcare industry where its implications can mean the difference between wellness and illness, life and death. In recent years, the impact of flawed product information ricocheted through the healthcare supply chain, resulting in significant challenges to the industry, driving increases in operational costs and impacting the quality of patient care.
Healthcare reform, increased transparency and traceability requirements, and poor data quality are just a few of the elements that are contributing to greater costs of doing business for healthcare organizations. In the meantime, product recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts weakened government and consumer trust in the industry, resulting in greater scrutiny and heavier governmental regulation. In an industry that is global by nature, the necessity for a standardized approach to supply chain management is imperative to keep costs down, and ensure the safety and well-being of end recipients.
This year more than 250 1WorldSync community members gathered in Austin, Texas for 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Americas to collaborate on hot topics under the theme: Be Efficient. Be Compliant. Be Transparent. With informative sessions addressing key industry pain points relating to supply chain efficiencies, regulatory compliance and any channel commerce, Annual User Group, Americas attendees heard how leaders in their community are addressing challenges and empowering their businesses for trusted product information exchange. As part of the dynamic agenda, fourteen 1WorldSync customers took the stage to share their success stories and attendees were treated to a special preview of The Attribute Graph (TAG) by 1WorldSync’s Chief Marketing Officer, Nick Parnaby.
The Fifth Annual Power of 1 Awards rounded out the event with General Mills, The Kellogg Company, Knights Apparel, McDonalds, Mondelez International and Walgreens each taking home an award for their significant contributions to product information exchange initiatives and the 1WorldSync community.
As the Diamond Sponsor of GS1 Connect 2015, which was co-located with 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Americas, 1WorldSync enjoyed an array of opportunities to continue to build upon the Be Efficient. Be Compliant. Be Transparent. theme. 1WorldSync CEO, Nihat Arkan, introduced the Wednesday keynote speaker to the GS1 Connect audience and 1WorldSync was the primary sponsor of the Wednesday night networking event, GS1 Connect on Rainey Street. Attendees to the 1WorldSync booth experienced the product information journey in the digital world, attended informative Major Release 3 1:1 sessions and engaged with leading recipients Target Corporation, The Kroger Company, Sam’s Club, SuperValu and Walmart.
New for 2015, 1WorldSync launched the 1WorldSync Events App which brought 1WorldSync and customer collateral, as well as dynamic community engagement right into the hands of attendees. The overwhelmingly positive feedback has ensured that 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Europe attendees will enjoy a similar digital experience. All in all, the week was a great success and we are excited to extend that success to 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Europe in September!
For some time now we have been living in an era of Transparency. Transparency in our policies and procedures, transparency in the business practices we operate, and transparency in the products and services we buy in business and in our daily lives. The transparent manner in which consumers expect to discover, buy and express opinions about products or services is the new norm for any business that expects to flourish in the mobile social economy.
Product information is in demand throughout the entire discover-to-review lifecycle, and at virtually every touch point of the consumer experience. Understanding the importance and value of product information transparency and its accessibility is simple, however, delivering it efficiently and seamlessly is anything but simple. Businesses must revisit the manner in which product information is created, exploded, standardized, quality assured and syndicated to all parties that enable the consumer experience.
Consumer demand for transparency and accountability is forcing businesses and entire industries to revisit the way product information is sourced, aggregated, distributed and labeled. Years ago, the seller was in control as purchase decisions were based on the availability, convenience and brand. The paradigm has shifted, and with an abundance of choice in front of them, consumers are making selections not simply on brand or availability, but on the attributes about the product.
Compounding this even further, a plethora of global legal and regulatory mandates have been put into place, requiring Brand Owners and Sellers to comply with product information centric regulations. For example, EU Food Regulation 1169 or FDA’s Unique Device Identification. Such regulations are another compelling force for companies all around the globe to take a closer look at the digital information chain that accompanies their products as they pass along transitional and new Omni-channels to market.
For 1WorldSync, product information transparency gets to the heart of everything we do. Our mission is to empower global businesses and consumers with trusted product information that enables improved decision making, efficiency, health and well-being.
Our Product Information Cloud platform purpose was built to deliver syndicated product information solutions and services to customers around the globe that rely on product information to power their businesses. For many of our 16,000 customers, the ability to mobilize a product information transparency program is a logical next step on top of the solid product information management foundations they have built with us over the last decade or more.
Every industry we operate in is actively investing in software and processes transformation that enables transparency. From the product development, to aggregation and management of product data at the manufacturer to setting up an item for sale at a retail or online store, to presenting that information to the consumer.
It is such a hot topic this year that we have made it the focus of our annual customer user conferences in both the USA at GS1 Connect, and in our EMEA customer event alongside ECR Europe this year.