This week the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced what was described as an  innovative SmartLabel™ technology that will enable consumers to have easy and instantaneous access to detailed information about the supply chain origin of thousands of products.  According to the announcement, more than 30 major companies are already committed to taking part in this transparency initiative.

The initiative enables consumers to get additional details about products by either scanning a bar code with a mobile device or performing 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. Each individual product in SmartLabel will have a specific web landing page containing detailed product information from the associated manufacturer.

GMA initiated the Consumer Information Transparency Initiative (CITI) as a collective  industry response to the consumers’ growing need for additional information about the products they use and consume. SmartLabel is the consumer-facing piece of this initiative, which will allow the shopper to access accurate, detailed and consistent information about nutrition, ingredients, allergens, product advisories, and brand information in a simple, digital format.  The technology not only provides consumers access to information, but it also creates  a mechanism for industry to provide answers to questions that might arise in response to events.

Current projections call for 30,000 participating products by the end of 2017. According to the GMA, within five years, 80 percent of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products will be utilizing SmartLabel.

Supply Chain Matters applauds members of the GMA for undertaking this broad technology initiative. We have also made our readers aware of other smart labeling technology starting to make its way into specific industry supply chain environments.

However, the real value to this program rests with providing consumers with up-to-data and accurate information regarding products, including their origins and composition.  One of the more controversial aspects related to such technology is the disclosure of and genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, which is a rather important topic for some consumers. Producers themselves need to insure that information is current and transparent, since consumers will likely discredit such a program without meaningful and timely information presented.