Increasingly consumers are wondering about the origin and safety of the food they eat, and the folks who produce Stone Buhr flour, Dole Organic bananas, and Askinosie chocolate, each have used the package to help their consumers find out more about where the ingredients in their products were grown.
Consumers can go to a web site called findthefarmer.com and actually find the farmer who grew the grain that went into each bag of Stone Buhr flour.
As the website says “Welcome to Find the Farmer! Stone-Buhr has created a simple, easy-to-use website for you to locate the family farms that grew the grain that we milled to create your flour. We believe it is important to support these multi-generational family farmers who are producing quality wheat in a responsible and sustainable manner. Simply type in your product’s lot code in the field to the left, and we’ll introduce you to the local growers responsible for the final product you hold in your hands. Come support sustainable local agriculture and be a part of this grand American tradition.”
A recent New York Times article mentions that this is new website can, “create relationships between consumers and farmers, mimicking the once-close ties that were broken long ago by industrialized food manufacturing.”
The article also mentions that this may be a growing trend.
“Several food companies in the United States and Europe are also experimenting with using the Internet to connect customers with the growers. Buyers of Dole organic bananas in the United States can now enter a bar code number on the banana’s sticker on the Doleorganic.com Web site and see photos and details about farms in Central and South America. The company said it plans to expand the effort this year in Europe with a variety of other fruits.
Askinosie Chocolate, a specialty chocolate maker in Springfield, Mo., also encourages its customers to enter codes on its website and virtually visit its cocoa bean farms in Mexico, Ecuador and the Philippines — and even read diary entries from farmers.”
Washington may also be getting into the act with the FDA’s Globalization Act of 2009, which would require food makers the ability to trace products back to the individual farms. I also suspect package designers will increasingly be asked to consider putting this kind of linkage on all food packages, along with the now standard ingredient listing, nutrition facts, and expiration dates. It will be interesting to see what kind of traction this new trend will have.
I for one can’t think of a better way for packaging to play a small role in bringing some peace of mind to consumers and accountability to food manufacturers and growers.