Brand mislabelling or contamination alters buying habits of half of British consumers


New research conducted for GS1 UK by YouGov, reveals that a colossal 45 per cent of consumers would change their future shopping habits following cases of product mislabelling or contamination.

While negatively impacting both manufacturers and retailers, those surveyed confirmed that brands would be four times more likely to be negatively affected after cases of contamination and recalls in comparison to the supermarkets they had been stocked in.

In addition, a concerning 37 per cent of those surveyed believe that brands and retailers lack transparency with customers about occurrences of product recalls.

These findings varied significantly between regions, with those surveyed in the South East reporting the highest levels of mistrust at 39 per cent, and the East Midlands the lowest at 27 per cent.

Heightened consumer mistrust can in part be attributed to the growing awareness of the sector’s vulnerability to these issues – nine out of ten of those surveyed had heard of food contamination at source and two in every five stated they were mindful of food contamination whenever they shopped.

The research, conducted for GS1’s recent traceability report, asserts that food product traceability is more important than ever before for consumers and this has been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic, calling on retailers and brands to provide greater levels of transparency and assurances on safety.

This is where GS1 UK’s standards come into play, helping to guarantee the traceability of products through tracking individual items at every stage of the supply chain using unique barcode identification keys.

Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK, said: “Our findings confirm that product traceability is increasingly shaping consumer habits, with costly consequences for retailers and product manufacturers who fail to be transparent.

“Using GS1 identifiers, we can help companies provide an accurate end-to-end record of a product’s lifespan. Only then will businesses be able to build trust with their customers, maintain consumer demand and, ultimately, ensure their survival in what is becoming an increasingly competitive and saturated market amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

”The coronavirus crisis has also illuminated for many the importance of health and wellbeing, and the accurate traceability of products is key to delivering this successfully to consumers.”

The report includes a simple diagram plotting these identification keys against steps in a product journey from farm to fork, to show just how easy it is to be end-to-end traceable using five standards and their identifiers.