Consumer demand for sustainably produced food
Consumers, especially Millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z have a very different relationship with food than previous generations. They want to know exactly where their food came from, what is in it and if it was produced in an environmentally conservative fashion.
They want to know if the raw materials were grown sustainably, if the product was produced according to the principles of fair trade or if the food does not harm the marine ecosystem. In addition, a number of claims can be done in regards to dietary information such as Vegan, Gluten Free, Kosher, or Halal.
While not long ago organic products were limited to basic foods of daily use, today the industry has become highly innovative and dynamic in this market, with expanding varieties and new flavors.
The main focus of innovations are nutrition and health.
With increasing demand and offers for sustainable and organic products and prospected growth in the near future, the number of certification bodies has also increased and today labels can range from organic, (or Bio), to sustainable growth, carbon footprint, fair trade…
According to the ecolabel index there are already around 150 different ecolabels that are being applied to foods.
Certification bodies for organic foods and labels
The sustainability and organic labels are very country-specific, with little if no international harmonization. Every region and country has a different approach, with regulations either drawn at a governmental level or managed by non-profit organizations.
In the USA the NSF, an international public health and safety organization, provides detailed information regarding the labeling of organic products in harmony with country specific standards. However, while the standards are precise for agricultural products, like spinach and lettuce, they are less so for formulated items, like flour, coffee, and breakfast cereals.
This information is based on requirements set by the USDA National Organic Program, adopted by international organizations:
- Organic or 100% Organic – no additives or other ingredients. These products must be grown, handled, and processed without the use of pesticides, chemicals, or fertilizers, non-bioengineered
- Made with Organic Ingredients – these products must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients
- Processed with Organic Ingredients – to achieve this label, these products must identify specific organic ingredients
- No Drugs/Growth Hormones/Free Range/ Sustainably Produced/Harvested – there are virtually no restrictions on the use of these words on a product label, and there is no oversight from a regulatory agency
In the EU the organic Logo and the labelling rules are also regulated, but the control bodies are nonprofit organizations of each of the member states.
The main objective of the European organic logo is to make organic products easier to be identified by the consumers. Furthermore, it gives a visual identity to the organic farming sector and thus contributes to ensure overall coherence and a proper functioning of the internal market in this field.
The EU requires an equally strict control system with checks carried out at every stage of the organic chain. Every operator (farmer, processor, trader, importer or exporter) is checked at least once a year, or more often on the basis of risk assessment.
The preparation of processed organic food must be kept separate in time or space from non-organic food.
- The product must be produced mainly from ingredients of agricultural origin (added water and cooking salt are not taken into account)
- The following ingredients may be used: additives, processing aids, flavorings, water, salt, preparations of micro-organisms and enzymes, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, as well as amino acids and other micronutrients in foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses, but only in so far as they have been authorized for use in organic production in accordance with Article 21of Council Regulation(EC) 834/2008.
- Non-organic agricultural ingredients can only be used if they have been authorized within Article 21 or have been provisionally authorized by a Member State.
- An organic ingredient cannot be present together with the same ingredient in non-organic form or an ingredient in conversion. (‘conversion’ means the transition from non-organic to organic farming within a given period of time, during which the provisions concerning the organic production have been applied)
- Food produced from in-conversion crops can only contain one crop ingredient of agricultural origin.
Substances and techniques that correct the results of negligence in the processing of these products or that otherwise may be misleading as to the true nature of these products cannot be used.
Source European Commission Index: https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/index_e
Challenges in the formula-based industry
Manufacturers in the formula-based food and beverage industry are sometimes challenged by the lack of a product lifecycle management process solution that delivers transparency throughout the product supply chain, allowing them to deliver consistent labeling.
Since formulation of products with sustainability logos and labels, follow very strict rules, the whole formulation process must be monitored and properly managed.
Certification and maintenance of organic and other logos is a complex and effort-intensive process.
Organic and conventional ingredients need to be processed separately, the certification documents need to be centralized and there must be one version of the truth, available throughout the business. Timely certification is also key to keep products on the market.
The right tools to leap ahead of competitors
SpecPage suite of process solutions provides traceability via oversight and insight into the process history throughout research and development, trials, simulations, manufacturing, supply chain, labeling, quality control and management, and the global regulatory compliance processes – it delivers an end-to-end, comprehensive mapping process solution that your customers can trust when it comes to organic products.
Transparency delivers accuracy in labeling
SpecPDM is designed precisely to support formula-based food and beverage producers by reducing the cost of specifications management, enabling supplier collaboration, content capture and certification as well as regulatory compliance and data security.
To support manufacturer’s effort to provide comprehensive and accurate information on product labels, SpecPDM provides:
- Project management
- Master data management
- Formula and formulations management
- Calculation management
- Declarations and specifications management
- Processing instructions
- Certification and validation management
- Global regulatory management
Comprehensive data management capabilities offer crucial benefits to recipe-based food and beverage manufacturers – regardless of ever-changing global compliance or labeling regulations. Product information management delivers custom, individualized catalogs to help suppliers and distributors publish and manage accurate, transparent, reliable product information. SpecPage innovative process solutions optimize data supplied to consumers, providing consistency and essential visual materials and photographs, which can be retrieved on demand.