Food labeling is a great idea. Who can argue with it? Trouble is, tracking exactly what is in every package of mass produced and globally-sourced food is a challenge. It just wasn’t practical. Now new technology is taking action and bringing that good idea to shoppers everywhere.

For those who would like to know whether their organic foods are truly organic, the use of NFC technology, and QR codes will help you to differentiate these products.

Food labels will become more important in the upcoming years. Soon, the food information itself will evolve as well. The future begins with smart packaging; which takes advantage of existing technology, allowing consumers to read information and other materials without scanning.

The technology is called near-field communication (NFC). It is included in most late-model cellphones, and has long been in use in other countries, on e-tickets as well as mobile payments. Another way for consumers to scan packaging is by using QR codes. The difference is that QR codes connect the user to other sites where the information is kept. This information is then downloaded to the smartphone for them to read.

On the contrary, this innovative NFC technology involves information already being available and transferrable to the smartphone. There is no need to place the phone on top of the item or product. When the phone gets near the object, the information is instantly transferred without any need for prompting. The consumer can then read the information without the need to scan the item, creating a more efficient process.

Smart Packaging NFC and QR Codes

The NFC Forum has partnered with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association and the Wireless Power Consortium, to bring novel information about products to consumers via the packaging NFC.

Woman checking label with phone.

At the same time, QR codes are becoming more common. The latest news is that Arkansas farmers will now be utilizing QR codes on their meat products. Customers will be able to determine the origin of the meat, as well as the method of raising. In addition, food containing GMO ingredients are now required to have QR codes, to inform consumers about what they are eating.

This is a direct result of the need for consumers to understand the conditions of the animals and plants that are being used in processing food. Until recently, this was not common practice within the country.

In Europe, they employ the terroir, which is the system that claims an item can only be called such if it passes requirements regarding location. This results in regulations concerning the use of a name, like Champagne and Parmigiano-Reggiano, actually apply to where it is produced and not just what it is.

In the United States, there are only a few examples of food and beverage items which have manufacturing restrictions. Bourbon is restricted in terms of how it is made and the ingredients used. Historically, there are a lot of bourbon manufacturers in Kentucky, which has resulted in bourbon being associated with the state. However, recent studies have shown that Kentucky bourbon has a distinctive taste, which is not found in bourbon made outside of this location. A phenomenon that has been attributed to the quality of water used.

This is the kind of information which manufacturers and growers want to have on their goods, especially for food and beverage products. For those who would like to know whether their organic foods are truly organic, the use of NFC technology, and QR codes will help you to differentiate these products and make an informed purchasing decision.

Making that information available to the public through new technology, is a bold action that could have big implications for the food business of the future.

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