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A tale of traceability on World Consumer Rights Day

A brand is nothing but an expression of the customer’s loyalty and trust,” said Phil Dusenberry. Well, how do this loyalty and trust is made? And how is a consumer becoming the key player in the growth of a company and how is it related to consumer rights? 

History and Significance of Consumer Rights Day 

The origin of consumer rights day is the 15th of March 1962, when President John F Kennedy sent a special message to the US Congress to address the consumer issue, being the first leader to do so. Many consumers get mistreated and lack awareness of their rights over the bill they pay and also, there exists a lot of social injustices in the consumer market. These issues initiated the consumer movement in the 1980s and every year this day, organizations choose a theme and conduct campaigns, awareness programs etc. for the consumers to know their rights and spend and act wisely. The theme chosen for 2021 is ‘Tackle Plastic Pollution’, as the world is facing a critical plastic pollution issue.

Half of the generation still believes that the consumer right day is only related to the market, but is it so? Of course not! The vision of consumer rights day, in the beginning, was simply the ‘consumer rights. However, as each year passed the consumer organizations such as NCF who carried out the same redefined this vision to a set of 8 basic rights. They are:

The right to satisfaction of basic needs – to have access to basic, essential goods and services such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.

The right to safety – to be protected against products, production processes and services that are hazardous to health or life.

The right to be informed – to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.

The right to choose – to be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.

The right to be heard – to have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.

The right to redress – to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

The right to consumer education – to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.

The right to a healthy environment – to live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

Thinking about it, how many of us were able to enjoy these rights? Less than a million, perhaps. This is why consumer rights day has to be celebrated. Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of consumers are respected and protected against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.

That one industry that concerns the middlemen the most?

Among the markets that exploit the rights of consumers, the major one is the agri-food industry. 

First of all, do we get what we pay for?

Is this so-called ‘organic’ actually organic?

Can we believe these ads where they show acres of lands growing the food products?

Can you know what’s happening? Well, you can. Using the current technologies, it is possible to ‘trace’ your food items.

So what is this traceability? 

Traceability is the ability to trace all processes from procurement of raw materials to production, consumption and disposal to clarify “when and where the product was produced by whom.” Due to the improvisation of product and the rise in safety awareness and ensuring transparency to consumers, in recent years, traceability has been an inevitable factor. 

Traceability is highly substantial within the supply chain of any manufacturer, as it delivers the ability to quickly recall products, track production and match replacement parts. Food manufacturing is just one example of an industry where traceability is highly beneficial and required. 

Traceability in food is similar to the actual term. Under EU law, “traceability” means the ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution. 

The food traceability system strengthens the record of the flow of products that are meant for human consumption throughout the production process. Since food production and distribution is a sophisticated process, the companies consider the food traceability system as a reasonable tool to solve all the food-related challenges. Food traceability helps companies to make fresh food products available to their consumers, thereby helping in reducing food-borne diseases. In many countries, such as the US and UK, consumers are ready to pay more for products having food traceability and point-of-origin certificates. Technologies such as infrared, RFID, biometrics, barcode, NFC and sensors have made food traceability convenient for companies in the food industry. 

As food production consists of various stages, including sourcing seeds & fertilizers, farming, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation and retail sales, there are risks associated with it such as contamination, making it imperative to have a food traceability system. The procedures involved during this process include identification, link, records of information, collection & storage of information and verification. 

Download the case study to find how CIED Technologies collaborated with the Dutch NGO Fairfood International to help the farmers and food brands with better understanding of their supply chains while ensuring transparency using traceability for consumers!

Transparent supply chain is a consumer right

A ragged supply chain system that was apt for the past decade is no longer an answer for today’s consumer queries. While purchase was mostly dependent on price and availability in the early 2000’s, consumers are today behind the story that a brand has to tell. Afterall, we all are victims of the changing climate crisis and human rights violation happening in this capitalistic society. 

Consumers worldwide thus are looking forward to businesses that champion the fight of greater transparency and traceability for goods in the supply chain. From pre-production, to post production, to packaging, shipping and retail; consumers not only demand to know where the product came from, but how many individuals were involved in the process, their work conditions, quality control, sustainability compliance, eradication of child labour, living wage payment, human rights due diligence and so on.

With the power of traceability, brands are now able to provide consumers with what they seek. By establishing complete, top-to-bottom, digitally generated supply chain visibility, companies are not only proving their part of responsibility towards a better future but also bringing buyers, suppliers, distributors and consumers on a continuum of active, transparent, big data –  a revolution that provides customers with their rights in knowing their food and the hands that make it.

Author avatar
Daliya Joseph
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