The pandemic that started in 2020 forced the food industry to focus on the direct-to-consumer (DTC) market like never before. Restaurant shutdowns and online grocery shopping placed DTC at the forefront of the industry. With consumers choosing many more of their food products directly, the sources of food and packaging have come under greater scrutiny. Food producers are working to satisfy consumer demands with transparent supply chains and recycled packaging.

DTC Food Production

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Packaging food for the DTC market involves different requirements than wholesale packaging. A representative from the GS1 US, the organization that oversees food bar code standards, said food processors had to rework their production lines for the retail market. That meant packaging that listed all ingredients and nutritional information.

Food Consumers Want Supply Chain Answers

When consumers shop for food online, they need detailed product information to make decisions. Standardization of product information and traceability of food sources among all producers and packagers have become necessary to supply the data consumers want.

Photo of three FreshDirect collapsible reusable grocery delivery bags featuring an artichoke design placed on a customer’s doorstep. This is an example of an unattended, “touchless” delivery method, which was adopted as company policy to mitigate spread of the COVID-19 pandemic Credit: John J. Kelly III

The food industry is in the middle of upgrading systems that will increase transparency in the food supply chain about the country of origin. To accomplish that goal, food companies have modernized systems to enable information sharing among all growers, packers, and distributors.

Packaging Materials Matter Too

Not only have producers needed to package more products for the retail market, they must contend with consumer criticism of wasteful packaging. A CBA survey showed that 59 percent of U.S. consumers want packaging to reflect sustainable values, which means plastic packaging alternatives or more recycled content. In response, Coca-Cola plans to use 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, and big brands like Nature Valley and Kraft Heinz are revamping their sustainable business practices by reworking their packaging materials.

Stocked Pantry. Credit: Ajay Suresh

Online DTC food shopping has become the new normal. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, online grocery shopping nearly quadrupled during the pandemic. In 2021, Nielsen estimates that grocery sales will reach at least $94 billion.

How has the shift to more retail food distribution affected your business?


GS1 Standards have been used for more than 45 years. In 1973, the grocery industry came together to agree on one way of doing business by adopting the U.P.C. barcode to drive speed and efficiency at retail check out. This cooperation marked the beginning of GS1 US® and our mission to help organizations of all sizes – ranging from large multi-national corporations to small start-up businesses – uniquely and consistently identify products, assets, shipments, and physical locations throughout the global supply chain while also enabling trading partners to exchange information critical to their businesses.

Today, the beep of a barcode is heard over 6 billion times per day and GS1 Standards are the most widely used system of standards in the world. More than 300,000 businesses in 25 industries are members of GS1 US, including organizations in the apparel, general merchandise, grocery retail, foodservice, and healthcare industries.

ABOUT Coca Cola

The product that has given the world its best-known taste was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist, produced the syrup for Coca-Cola, and carried a jug of the new product down the street to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where it was sampled, pronounced “excellent” and placed on sale for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink. Carbonated water was teamed with the new syrup to produce a drink that was at once “Delicious and Refreshing,” a theme that continues to echo today wherever Coca-Cola is enjoyed.

Thinking that “the two Cs would look well in advertising,” Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name and penned the now famous trademark “Coca-Cola” in his unique script.

Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.

ABOUT Nature Valley

Nature Valley was established in 1973 with the introduction of granola cereal. There was just one problem: it wasn’t designed to be eaten outside. So we got to work creating the world’s first-ever granola bar.

50 years later we don’t just offer one granola bar. We offer a full line of bars, snacks, and granola available on-the-go to inspire people to connect with nature. Because we don’t take the “nature” in our name lightly.

In 2019 we began providing financial support to help farmers adopt regenerative agriculture practices in regions that supply our oats – and we continue to support eight oat farmers on their regenerative agriculture journey today. Why? Because we believe in preserving and protecting the land we live on.

About Kraft Heinz

The Kraft Heinz Company is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, with eight $1 billion+ brands. A globally trusted producer of delicious foods, The Kraft Heinz Company provides high quality, great taste and nutrition for all eating occasions whether at home, in restaurants or on the go.

We are writing the next chapter of our history at Kraft Heinz. Just as a compass provides guidance and clarity, together our Purpose, Vision, Values, and Leadership Principles chart our collective course. They set and establish our new direction, serving as a “north star” for the Company. Consumers are at the center of everything we do – from the quality of our world-class iconic brands to our commitment to the communities where we live, work, and do business. They remind our employees, individually and as a team, why the work we do each day matters.

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