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Providing Visibility into Freshness

Posted by IFCO Systems
June 01, 2016

Target is taking a creative approach to help customers better understand the freshness and nutritional value of the food they are purchasing. The company has begun using an approach known as spectroscopy to scan hundreds of thousands of food items in order to understand how nutrition, freshness and other factors change over time.

“We know less about our food we eat today than at any other time in our history, period,” Greg Shewmaker told StarTribue.com. Shewmaker is Founding Partner and Entrepreneur in Residence for Target, and Cofounder of “Food + Future coLAB” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a collaboration between Target, MIT and the design firm Ideo.

Target recently conducted tests at its SuperTarget store in Edina, Minnesota, in an effort to better understand the importance of product visibility to customers. In one of the experiments aimed at studying shopper response, a handwritten sign indicated newly arrived strawberries being offered at full price, while another sign identified week-old berries at a discount of 50 cents per pound.

Two “smart” scales were also set up, where shoppers could place items, and then indicate what information for which they would like more detail, such as how many calories the item has, or whether it is organic. At some point in the future, it may be possible that customers will be able to scan items to reveal important information such as projected shelf life.

The goal of all of these efforts is to help customers make more informed food purchases. If the berries are for same-day consumption, for example, the week-old fruit might represent the best value, but if they are for a few days into the future, the new berries would obviously be a better choice.

Providing customers with the point of sale shelf life and nutritional information could well be a useful tool for building customer trust. To take a step further, providing visibility into freshness offers even more potential for building fierce customer loyalty when retailers can back up that conversation with the freshest product, supported by leading cold chain technologies, including RPCs. The superior ventilation of RPCs allows quicker cooling to help extend product life, and the rugged construction helps reduce product damage. It is important to tell your freshness story, and RPCs can help make it memorable.

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