Transparency drive: Hershey first to adopt GMA's QR SmartLabel

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Kisses QR codes to give shoppers extra information that would not otherwise fit on the pack, says Hershey
Kisses QR codes to give shoppers extra information that would not otherwise fit on the pack, says Hershey
Hershey will be the first company to adopt the Grocery Manufacturers Association's (GMA) SmartLabel program, which allows shoppers to scan on-product QR codes for detailed nutritional information.

The company will pilot the initiative on Hershey’s Holiday Kisses and eventually plans to introduce the label across its Kisses range in the US.

Consumers can view a product’s nutritional values, ingredients, product usage and brand details by scanning the QR code with a mobile device .

Adding the new technology to Hershey products will help its consumers “make informed decisions about food and household product,​” says the company.

Time for food industry to ‘step up’

Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey, told Confectionery News, "With more consumers asking for more transparency than ever before, it is time for the food industry to step up.”​ He called the SmartLabel program “an innovative new technology solution for food transparency.” 

According to a survey conducted by the National Food Transparency Project, 94.3% want to get information about their food on the package or label. However, as Beckman pointed out, the information is sometimes restricted by the size and space of the package. SmartLabel QR codes are not.

Using mobile technology, we can now give consumers comprehensive information that addresses their diverse interests and concerns – something a label could never accomplish,​” Beckman said. The food information, the SmartLabel can help provide, includes but is not limited to nutritional information, sources of ingredients, allergens, and if the product is gluten-free.

Hershey questions ‘confusing’ state labeling laws

Beckman said there were many proposed bills designed to improve transparency around packaged food. But it’s state-level labeling requirements that create a major supply chain problem for products that are sold nationwide, he said.

“What we really need is a single, nationwide solution for providing product and ingredient information instead of a patchwork of state-by-state laws that are confusing for shoppers and impractical for any food manufacturer or retailer whose business crosses state lines,”​ Beckman said.

Asked if adopting the new technology might eliminate some customers who don’t have a smartphone, thus they are not able to scan the QR code, Beckman said, “no, it’s a web-based information platform and the information can be accessed from any online device, including a desktop computer.​”

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