A 2018 USDA study of accredited organic certifiers found that almost half did not meet at least one standard. This is a frequently occurring situation, whereby food is not what it says it is, with a 2017 USDA report admitting a failure to adequately certify imported organic food.
A study by the Center for Food Integrity found that only 33% of respondents strongly agreed that they are confident in the safety of their food, as compared to 47% in 2017. Less than half of respondents said they had a positive impression of the food industry.
Consumer trust is integral to the success and profitability of a company. As such, the deficit in trust as caused by the opacity of the agricultural supply chain represents a financial and social loss for the industry. A study from Response Media discovered that 98.5% of consumers would pay more for transparent products, meaning that improving traceability would positively impact a company’s bottom line.
To facilitate traceability with traditional methods requires inordinate amounts of data, labor, and time, rendering it near impossible to do. Those companies that succeed are usually small, family-run and able to obviously prove the origin of their food, such as farmers’ market stalls. Most companies however, face a multitude of obstacles to traceability, beginning with the complexity of the agricultural supply chain.
- Many active parties - suppliers >producers>distributors and storage>retailers>consumers
- No standardization - supply chain parties are siloed and disconnected
- A spread out and global supply chain - any product has countless movements and transitions over a wide geographic span