Kroger and Walmart join IBM-led food pedigree consortium
ARMONK, N.Y. — A group of leading companies across the global food supply chain, including Walmart and Kroger, earlier this week announced a major blockchain collaboration with IBM to further strengthen consumer confidence.
“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” stated Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain. “Our work with organizations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organizations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to production to improve the way business gets done.”
In parallel trials in China and the U.S., IBM and Walmart recently demonstrated that blockchain can be used to track a product from the farm through every stage of the supply chain, right to the retail shelf, in seconds instead of days or weeks.
These trials also demonstrated that stakeholders throughout the global food supply chain view food safety as a collaborative issue, rather than a competitive one, and are willing to work together to improve the food system for everyone.
“As an advocate for greater transparency in the food system to benefit customers, Walmart looks forward to expanding on our initial work by collaborating with others to accelerate exploration on how this technology can be used as a more effective food traceability and food safety tool,” said Frank Yiannas, VP food safety, Walmart. “Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system – equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors. It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network.”
“Safety is a key value for Kroger, and our partnership with IBM positions us to explore and test blockchain technology as a solution for enhanced food safety across our business," added Howard Popoola, Kroger's VP corporate food technology and regulatory compliance. "Food safety is a universal priority for food retailers and companies. It's not a competitive advantage; it benefits our customers to have greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain."
Blockchain is ideally suited to help address challenges of cross-contamination, the spread of food-borne illness and and unnecessary waste because it establishes a trusted environment for all transactions. In the case of the global food supply chain, all participants – growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers – can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions.
The consortium includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick, McLane, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart.
Kind enters fruit snack category with latest launch
NEW YORK — Kind Healthy Snacks is moving into a new category with the launch of its Kind Fruit Bites. The company’s fruit snacks contain only fruit and no added sugar, and their launch was supported with a Times Square installation depicting 45,485 pounds of sugar — which it said represented the amount of added sugar children in the U.S. consume every five minutes.
“Since day one, Kind has been committed to balancing health and taste, and our Kind Promise has centered on crafting snacks with a nutritionally-dense first ingredient,” Kind founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky said. “KIND Fruit Bites honors this promise, and is consistent with how we’ve always entered categories – with an eye toward disruption and a goal of elevating people’s overall experience.”
Kind pointed to a recent Morning Consult study that found fruit snacks to be less healthy than many consumers perceive it to be, noting that 61% of parents believed the ingredient list of leading fruit snacks belonged to a sweetened cereal, soda, candy or toaster pastry.
“While the general public’s understanding of nutrition has become increasingly sophisticated, an opportunity still exists to educate on added sugars,” Kind health and wellness specialist and registered dietitian Stephanie Perruzza said. “This is especially true in categories like fruit snacks, where people understandably assume that their snack is made predominantly of wholesome ingredients, such as fruit.”
The new snacks come in three varieties, and the company said they are free of juices, purees, concentrates, preservatives or genetically engineered ingredients. Each pouch offers one full serving of fruit.
The snacks are currently available at retailers nationwide, with a suggested retail price of $4.99 per five-pack box.
Health plays role in snacking indulgence
While consumers may be growing more health-conscious with their food choices, it seems there is still room for life’s little indulgences. According to new international research on snacking motivation from Mintel, Americans cited treating themselves as the top reason to snack (50%), and more than one-quarter (28%) agreed that taste is more important than health when choosing a snack.
But that’s not to say health claims are no longer a critical component of which snacks actually fall into the shopping basket. Consumers increasingly want an indulgence that’s healthy, too.
Despite that propensity to indulge, health continues to play a critical role in the types of snacks consumers eat. One-third (32%) of consumers said the majority of snacks they eat are healthy, and more than one-quarter (28%) said they are snacking on healthier foods this year than in 2016.
Snacks with health-related claims are among the fastest-growing snack launches, with low-, no- or reduced-allergen claims accounting for 46% of total new snack product launches in the United States in 2017, an increase of 30% over 2013, according to Mintel Global New Products Database.
“The importance of snacking in America is undeniable, and it is creating more and more opportunity for companies and brands as snacking frequency increases, particularly among younger consumers,” noted Beth Bloom, associate director of U.S. food and drink reports at Mintel. “While health is a factor for consideration in food and drink decisions, the majority of snackers do so for a treat, meaning even health-focused snacks should appeal [to consumers] with messages about enjoyment and indulgence.”