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Data & Traceability

What is it and why does it matter?

Being transparent about the origins and content (i.e., ingredients) of food and food products through honest labelling and information.

Data / Traceability have some resonance amongst consumers and customers but really it is the forward-looking agenda setters, particularly sustainability leads, who most see its importance.

Traceability is now a given in some markets for consumers, in terms of providing origin and content labelling. However, for sustainability leads and trade buyers, the sharing of data around sustainability targets can generate long-term partnerships and may soon be pre-requisites to becoming a supplier as buyers look into their supply chain to reach carbon targets.


Of beef consumers say it’s worth paying more for beef that is fully traceable (rising to 25% in Ireland)​


Blockchain for the World’s Food Supply

IBM have created a specific Food Trust™ system that connects participants across the food supply chain through a permanent and shared record of food system data, increasing transparency, as well as assurances of any sustainability credentials

Insights from 

​Agenda Setters

Food traceability and transparency are seen as vitally important today and this will only increase in the future. There is a strong consensus that consumers will want increasing information about where their food comes from, and that digital technology advances will enable this

“the consumer is going to demand more. Not just in terms of provenance but also the carbon number”

There is an emerging view that certification will not be enough as customers move to very specific goals – which demand proof through the supply chain (especially on carbon as they push for Net Zero).

There is a sense that this is a gap / opportunity for suppliers …but also a future threat – those that can’t / won’t provide data will lose out

“Suppliers in the future that are not willing to share the data, they will probably be out”


For buyers, data and traceability is lower down in terms of importance as it is seen as a given for many, especially in the West.

However, we would note that many other higher performing topics like (origin, certification & quality assured) are potentially linked to the desire for transparency. And in the future, data & transparency around sustainability will become more important for buyers.


For consumers traceability is a mid-table topic with some increase in importance for sectors like beef. Similar for customers, it is perhaps seen as a bit of a table stake, but in Eastern markets, where food safety is prevalent, it plays more of a role. It is not mainly a premium-driver, nor is it a core influencer when it comes to sustainability assessment. 

In coming years, we may see this become more important as carbon numbers make brands stand out. Brands that can communicate transparently about environmental impact, e.g., carbon numbers, can stand to lead the consumer conversation on traceability and see commercial benefit. 

24%​ of buyers say

it’s important for suppliers to have products that are fully traceable or are from a transparent verifiable supply chain​
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications