Food transparency refers to the practice of providing consumers with accurate and accessible information about the food they eat. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for greater transparency in the food industry, driven by concerns over food safety, nutrition, and the environmental impact of food production.
Governments and industry organizations have implemented measures to enhance food transparency, such as mandatory labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and country-of-origin labelling (COOL) and not forgetting, Arabic labelling specific to our region.
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In the past, the F&B industry was based on a culture of secrets, and essentially hiding everything happening along the value chain. This was because marketing was focused on telling a beautiful story to the consumers, to make them want to buy into the brand. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of consumers feeling abused by brands, and not trusting claims that are made about products. However, times have changed and more than ever, health-conscious consumers are demanding information about how their food is produced and sourced.
There are several reasons why food transparency is important in restaurants. Transparency in the F&B industry increases accountability. Businesses take a close look at their own practices when they commit to letting their customers know what's happening at every point in operations. Transparent businesses cannot ignore their own unethical or harmful practices. They become more accountable for their actions, which ultimately helps to drive changes and improve results.
The journey to transparency can’t help but take a business through some soul-searching. They must perform a life cycle assessment to fully understand the impact of their products and operations on the environment and leverage this information to find ways to improve processes in accordance with environmental and social protections.
On the consumer side of things, transparency allows customers to make informed decisions about what they are eating, particularly if they have specific dietary requirements or allergies. It also helps to build trust and loyalty with customers, who are more likely to return to a restaurant that they feel is open and honest about their food. Brand trust determines happy customers, repeat business, and creates brand advocates. From a health and food safety standpoint, food transparency helps prevent food safety hazards which in turn builds on trust.
Thus, restaurants can promote food transparency by providing detailed ingredient lists, including allergen information on menus, and providing nutritional information on request. Additionally, some restaurants may choose to source their ingredients locally or use organic or sustainable products, which can also be highlighted to customers as part of their commitment to food transparency. Consumers want to connect to brands that share the same values. They are looking for ethics in farming, the welfare of animals, and the source of the foods they consume. Moreover, promoting the fact that your restaurant uses ingredients that are fresh rather than frozen can help build customer loyalty.
Another important point is to educate your staff about the importance of transparency and make them be seen. For instance, the restaurant could break down the wall covering the kitchen to allow guests to view the cooking area or add more windows externally or internally to make employees visible to customers. Not only does this create a trust for your customers, but it also encourages the staff to work efficiently and effectively.
Lastly, it is vital to be vulnerable with your customers. Respond to new demands by showing that you care and understand their concerns. This alone will create a bond between you, your customers, and your employees, which will result in trust towards the food and service provided. Establishing reliable communication channels will improve your consumer relationships. This communication can be done through digital or eCommerce supplier quality management platforms, eCommerce email marketing, or text messaging. There should be always open lines of communication.
Transparency is more than just a tenant of a business's corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. It is a human quality that builds trust. Consumers want to trust the companies they patronize, just as they want transparency and trust in their personal relationships. The results of increased transparency, particularly in the F&B industry, will enable businesses to set themselves apart from less responsible producers for years to come.
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