Food giant Nestlé has chosen the UK for the global launch of its new digital scanning system, designed to provide customers with smartphone access to information about the nutritional profile and environmental and social impacts of its products.
Before buying a two-finger KitKat chocolate bar in the UK and Ireland, shoppers with smart phones will be able to scan its packaging to discover its ingredients, how it was produced and dietary advice.
The information will be delivered using a Quick Response (QR) code that will take consumers to digital sites which supply a wide range of information that cannot be found on the packaging.
Patrice Bula, Nestlé’s head of strategic business units, marketing and sales, said: “We have a wealth of information about the nutritional value and the environmental and social impacts of what we produce, and it makes sense to share that with consumers.”
“We hope that consumers, wherever they are in the world, will use these QR codes to learn more about our products.”
A QR code is a barcode consisting of small black blocks arranged in a square pattern against a white background. The firm plans to launch the QR codes across its portfolio in both emerging and developed markets, with the aim of helping “people make more informed choices about what to purchase or consume”.
In addition to information about ingredients and manufacture, consumers will also be able to discover “how the product fits into a healthy lifestyle”, including portion guidance and recipe ideas.
Information on the products’ sustainability will include facts about their impact, such as how much water or energy is used in their entire life cycle.
In 2006, Nestlé launched a ‘nutritional compass’ on its packaging, designed, said the firm, to be “an informative guide to help consumers choose between products”.
Most of the QR codes will appear on packs on a space within the nutritional compass. The compass is used on 97% of Nestlé products worldwide, it claimed.
Meanwhile, earlier this month Nestlé won the latest round in its chocolate war with Cadbury after it stopped its rival from copying the shape of its KitKat fingers.
Simon Crossley, a partner at Eversheds and intellectual property (IP) expert, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that companies were becoming more active in trying to protect what they view as unique characteristics.
“In the supermarket and shop environment, anything that makes a product distinctive or unique is very valuable and, in an increasingly competitive environment, I think companies are increasingly willing to try and protect their products,” he said.