Thought Leadership

4 transparency takeaways from The Grocer’s 2021 Trends Report

Published on
January 26, 2021
Tim Slater

Last week, The Grocer called on FCMG industry experts to share their predictions for a 2021 retail trends report. The report focuses on the lasting impact of Covid, but naturally, there are some crucial transparency-focused takeaways. Below, we’ve pulled out four key trends that you’ll need to stay ahead of this year.

1. We’ll see more on-pack impact claims

“By the end of the year, it will not be unusual to see quantified environmental impact ‘eco-scores’ on packaging, menus and websites, reminiscent of the shift to transparency in nutritional info over the last decade.”

– Morten Toft Bech, Founder, Meatless Farm

Footfall might have taken a hit with Covid, but one thing’s for sure: more people are looking at your products in-store than there are scouring your website footer for your annual impact report. Today’s shoppers want to know more about the impact of products at the point of sale, and sustainability credentials buried in standalone PDFs aren’t going to move the needle for marketers.

For brands who’ve made progress on the social and environmental impact of their products, the opportunity is huge. But the shift to on-pack impact marketing will also expose gaps between how brands talk and how they walk. Expect brands making misleading or poorly evidenced claims to see their efforts backfire.

To avoid the common pitfalls and steer clear of greenwashing, don’t be tempted to measure yourself with your own yardstick. At Provenance, we know that businesses aren’t best placed to judge their own integrity. That’s why we appointed our own Integrity Council, to make sure we continue to act for people and planet as we grow.

For marketers looking to leverage the on-pack impact messaging opportunity, it’s crucial to measure and communicate your impact against an independent framework.

2: Supply chains will stay in the headlines

“The milk supply chain is at capacity and therefore if a site went down due to staff sickness – ours or a competitor’s – then it’s likely we would get product shortages on shelf.”

– Ash Amirahmadi, UK MD, Arla:

“In terms of food safety and food fraud, serious issues may emerge. These will be a result of greatly reduced audits and inspections, many food commodities being caught in transportation difficulties, shortages of some food types, the diversion of produce from one market to another and, of course, opportunity: the opportunity to cheat.”

– Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety, Queen’s University Belfast

Last year, Boohoo, Brexit and bog roll brought supply chains issues into the public consciousness like never before. In 2021, experts predict that Covid and trade issues will keep them front of mind.

This increased scrutiny on supply chains means ignoring systemic problems is simply not an option. With 90% of a product’s environmental impact coming from its supply chain, any conversations around impact need to start here. It’s time for procurement, sustainability and marketing teams to cosy up and tackle these issues as one.

Aerial Photograph of Cargo Ship
90% of a product’s environmental impact comes from its supply chain (Image Credit: Tom Fisk)

3: Regulators will call out greenwashing

“The regulators have started to get involved. We expect to see significant enforcement against food manufacturers and retailers for misleading green claims as a result and new guidance which sets the standard high.”

– Katrina Anderson, Food Lawyer, Osborne Clarke

Both the Advertising Standards Authority and the Competition & Markets Authority are prioritising the investigation of environmental claims in 2021, and big name brands like Gousto and Quorn have already had a knock on the door.

To avoid risking the same fate, make sure you support your brand claims with credible evidence, measured against independent standards. Only when your marketing is built on hard proof will you have the confidence and tools with which to cut through the greenwash.

4. Regenerative farming will help save the planet

“In 2021, the government will wake up to the fact that intensified farming is destroying our soils. It will incentivise farmers to move towards regenerative farming, and land will be freed up from intensified farming and used for tree planting and reformation to improve soil health and sequester carbon.”

– Jonathan Petrides, CEO and Founder, AllPlants

Time will tell if the government will step in with an incentive scheme, but a shift away from intensive farming is urgently needed. Quality soil stores water, recycles nutrients and sequesters carbon. So not only does it prop up our global food supply – it’s also a vital way of slowing global warming.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, a third of the world’s soil is now moderately to highly degraded. However, a number of brands are working to turn the tide, including Pernod Ricard which is piloting regenerative agriculture projects around the world aimed at improving the quality of topsoil, watersheds and ecosystems.

It looks like regenerative farming will be a big topic in 2021, so it’s worth thinking about how your suppliers measure up. Our Transparency Framework lets brands communicate progress against independent standards for Sustainable Land Management, Water Saving Initiatives and Biodiversity conservation.

For help with meeting your customers’ transparency needs, and for more information on our independent framework, get in touch.

Tim Slater

Tim Slater is the Marketing Lead at Provenance. He works closely with our Impact team to translate their expertise into actionable content that helps brands minimise their impact on people and planet and avoid greenwashing.

The Provenance Team

Provenance powers sustainability claims you can trust. The global leader in sustainability marketing technology, Provenance helps brands and retailers share credible, compelling and fact-checked social and environmental impact information at the point of sale. Provenance’s technology is already increasing conversion rates, brand value and market share for customers including Cult Beauty, Douglas, GANNI, Napolina, Arla and Unilever

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