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    GMA Unveils SmartLabel Initiative

    Effort aims to address consumers’ desire for greater product knowledge

    By Joan Driggs, Stagnito Business Information
    New SmartLabel initiative gives consumers easy access to detailed product information on thousands of products.

    In an effort to bring leading CPG manufacturers – both food and non-food – and retailers together to address consumers’ desire for greater product knowledge, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) unveiled the new SmartLabel transparency initiative.

    SmartLabel provides consumers with easy and instantaneous access to detailed information about thousands of products. More than 30 major companies are already committed to taking part in the program, with GMA leadership predicting that within five years, more than 80 percent of CPG products will be using SmartLabel.

    More than 325 people from 90 companies representing manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, worked together to create the initiative that enables consumers to get additional details about products by scanning a bar code or doing 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. A SmartLabel app is also in the works, and should be ready by mid-2016. SmartLabel is designed so that consumers can easily have access to a wide variety of information but can hone in on a question they have on an ingredient or product in just one or two clicks.

    “People want more information and are asking more questions about products they buy, use and consume, and SmartLabel puts detailed information right at their fingertips,” Pam Bailey, president and CEO of GMA, said in announcing the launch of the program. “SmartLabel is a modern technology that will change how people shop and will help them get answers to questions they have on the products they purchase when they want that information. It does so in a way that reflects the changing ways people shop.”

    Beyond ingredient information, SmartLabel reveals information on 350 product attributes including allergens, third-party certifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions and company/brand information, along with other pertinent information about the product.

    A recent survey by Benenson Strategy Group found that 75 percent of consumers said they would be likely to use SmartLabel, demonstrating consumer desire for more product information.

    How SmartLabel Works

    According to Jim Flannery, senior executive VP of GMA, each individual product in SmartLabel will have a specific landing page containing detailed information from the manufacturer on ingredients and other product attributes. All SmartLabel landing pages are organized in a similar format, with a consistent look across products, whether the consumer is looking at a gallon of ice cream or a gallon of laundry detergent.

    “This is not a great big database in the sky,” Flannery said in making the announcement. “Its brand data stored and maintained by the manufacturer. It protects consumers’ privacy but gives them access to the information they’re looking for within two quick clicks.” Examples of products currently using SmartLabel are at www.smartlabel.org.

    Consumers will be able to find this detailed product information in several ways: by scanning a QR code on the package, using a web search engine, going to a participating company’s website, or eventually through the app. A number of retailers have said that they can help shoppers without smartphones via their customer service desk in stores.

    More than 30 Major Companies Already Committed to SmartLabel

    Some companies are beginning to offer products using SmartLabel late this year and early in 2016, with projections of nearly 30,000 total products using SmartLabel by the end of 2017. “We want to emphasize that this is the very earliest stage of this initiative,” Bailey said. “SmartLabel will become ubiquitous and the routine way that shoppers make decisions and research information about the products they buy.”

    More than 30 of the nation’s major food CPG companies already are committed to using SmartLabel to provide detailed information about their products. These include ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Knouse Foods, Land O’Lakes, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Hershey, J.M. Smucker Company, Kellogg Company, General Mills, McCormick & Company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Bruce Foods Corporation, Bumble Bee Seafoods, Ferraro USA, Flowers Foods, Reily Foods Company, Rich Products Corporation, Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., Ahold USA, Topco LLC, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Pharmavite LLC, Clorox, Colgate, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

    Progressive Grocer’s January 2016 issue will feature significant coverage of the SmartLabel initiative.

     

    By Joan Driggs, Stagnito Business Information
    • About Joan Driggs Joan Driggs is Editorial Director of Progressive Grocer and Progressive Grocer Independent. She has more than 25 years of experience in trade journalism and market research. Joan enjoys connecting with CPG manufacturers and grocery retailers, and learning how they connect for the benefit of consumers. Her roots are in new product development and she continues to seek out the latest in greatest at grocery retail. To connect with Joan, email [email protected], or reach out on Twitter, @JoanPGrocer.

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