New technologies lie at the heart of the food sector's ongoing transformation
- Transparency: To enhance their brands, leading food-sector companies now recognize the importance of fostering trust.
- Emerging technologies: Consumers increasingly want to know exactly what they are eating or drinking, as well as where their food comes from and how it was grown, harvested and processed.
- Sustainable development: 65% of Canadians surveyed said they were willing to pay more for locally sourced foods.
TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2019 /CNW/ - Transparency, technology and sustainable development are three crucial factors that can reshape the contours of the food sector in the coming years. In its most recent report, Saveurs 2019, PwC Canada examines the interest of certain food sector players in transparency, sustainable development and technology, along with Canadian consumers' commitment to sustainability.
Food industry 2.0
New technologies are casting fresh light on how companies maintain consumers' trust. Initially aimed at improving operational efficiency, these technologies are now used to boost quality control and optimize food traceability, thus enabling stakeholders to reap the full benefits of farm-to-table transparency. In addition to monitoring refrigeration systems while products are being shipped or stored, sensors are now used by farmers in automated greenhouses, as well as on drones to check for crop-damaging insects.
Industry players, meanwhile, are honing their expertise with a view to adding greater value to the data they collect. In the future, emerging technologies such as block chains will track products throughout the supply chain while tracing food products and prevent data corruption. Data sharing means that standards can be met and problems can be identified upstream; companies can also be more transparent with their clients, thus reinforcing one of the key building blocks of trust. Attesting to the keen interest in data in Canada, a number of firms are seeking to develop smart labels that store detailed information on individual products. Clients can then use their smartphones or computers to search for this information as needed.
"By sharing data via the Internet of Things, businesses are becoming more efficient and transparent throughout the value chain. In addition, they are telling their story with an eye to developing and maintaining consumers' trust," says Myles Gooding, National Retail and Consumer Leader, PwC Canada.
"In the face of changing behaviour, what kind of stand should companies take? It is important for them to remain true to their values and, through their transparency efforts, to uphold the values they promote. By defining and remaining true to their mission and values, businesses can help create a client base that stays loyal to their brand," adds Marc-Stéphane Pennee, Partner, PwC Canada.
In its most recent Consumer Insight report (2019), PwC asked buyers about their willingness to pay more for foods with various sustainability attributes. One finding stands out: consumers' awareness of their environmental footprint is growing.
Meanwhile, another trend is emerging: 65% of Canadian respondents said they were willing to pay more for locally sourced foods. As regards organic produce, 46% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more, while 40% said they would do so for sustainable packaging. These figures were even higher at the global level, with 66% committed to locally produced food, 54% to organic produce and 44% to sustainable packaging. In addition, slightly more than one-third of consumers (34% in Canada and 38% worldwide) said they were willing to pay more for recognized brands in order to implement sustainable practices.
In light of these findings, a number of companies are taking steps to meet consumer demand – for example, by including social responsibility in their corporate values or by aligning their business objectives with food sustainability criteria.
About PwC Canada
At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. More than 7,000 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 250,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.
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SOURCE PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)