Tackling Transparency

As transparency emerges across segments, opportunities to capture this translucent trend abound.
A farmer walks along furrowed crop rows in a field

In foodservice, “transparent” can be defined as a consumer’s need to understand where food is sourced, its makeup and how it is managed across the food chain. 

Each claim means something different to consumers—and it plays out differently in restaurants, education and healthcare. But it’s all related because no foodservice segment exists in isolation. 

Transparency in education

Colleges and universities are leading the change in what’s offered to students. They demand more food information than previous generations.  

They want to know where food is sourced, whether producers use sound practices, that animals are raised humanely and waste is handled responsibly. They also demand nutrition data, allergy information and diet accommodations.

“If they don’t like what they hear, they’ll go elsewhere,” says Gordon Food Service Education Segment Manager Nicole Nicoloff. 

Transparency in healthcare

Because food is a major part of health, transparency leads to mindful eating. In the patient room and the cafeteria, nutrition and allergy information is increasingly available to encourage healthier eating. 

Gordon Food Service Healthcare Segment Manager Dana Fillmore, RD, stresses that people “want to know exactly what they’re consuming.” Healthcare foodservice is responding in various ways, from installing informational kiosks to highlighting local sources.

Transparency in restaurants

Restaurants must watch consumers and transparency. Data about how transparency drives sales in commercial foodservice is scarce, says Gordon Food Service Commercial Segment Manager Doug Owens. 

While a significant number of restaurant customers say they want transparency, they also want an indulgent dining experience. Yet Owens still believes there is opportunity to target customers who prioritize things like fresh, local, healthy, non-GMO and sustainable. “Positioning your brand as transparent can be a way to stand out in the marketplace.”

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