Where in the world is this food from? Traceability initiatives let consumers know

Manufacturers are rolling out digital solutions to tell people more about what goes into their snacks

A year ago, Hershey started participating in the Grocery Manufacturers Association's SmartLabel program, adding a smartphone-scannable barcode to packaging. Scanning this code informs consumers about the ingredients, nutrition information, and allergens in a certain item.

Last month, the company partnered with Sourcemap for a new innovation in Hershey’s continued effort toward greater food transparency. Sourcemap's interactive mapping tool provides visibility into the supply chain by letting consumers trace agricultural ingredients back to where they were grown or made.

The platform allows consumers to view where all of a product’s ingredients come from, watch videos about the peanut and almond farmers and learn about the cooperatives the Hershey Company supports in Côte d’Ivoire.

“We are always pushing ourselves to think through what else we could be doing to bring more information about our products to consumers, including how we make them and what goes into them,” Deb Arcoleo, director of product transparency at Hershey, told Food Dive.

Arcoleo never forgot how intrigued she was by Sourcemap after meeting its founders four years ago at a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last year, she decided it was time to try them out for Hershey. A proof of concept went smoothly, and the chocolate company decided to do a pilot program this year with two products: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 

Consumers can go to the Hershey website and take an immersive look into the story of the ingredients that go into these products. They can also learn how they are farmed or harvested and find out about sustainable sourcing initiatives. For instance, viewers can discover the story of how cocoa beans are harvested from trees in Ghana or learn more about the almond groves of California’s Central Valley.

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