top of page

Supply chain transparency: Why we know so little about our products.

Woman with hand over her mouth

Transparency for breakfast

Have you read it too? The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is on the decline. Good news that jumps into your eyes when you read the news in the morning, isn't it?

Fittingly, you've been able to enjoy your breakfast egg with a better conscience for some time now. After all, the male chicks are no longer killed immediately after hatching, but are now allowed to grow up. And the milk in your coffee is no problem either. You choose pasture-raised or organic milk - so the animals had a good life. Nice!

But what sounds like a morning breakfast idyll is sometimes more marketing than reality. Because we have to close our eyes and ears tightly to the content that is usually well and truly hidden behind short headlines or euphonious descriptions. In the case of pasture milk, for example, the cows are by no means out on the pasture all year round. But the term evokes precisely this association in many people and is therefore misleading.

You only know the tip of the iceberg

Iceberg in the water

What you receive as information as a consumer is often just the tip of the iceberg. Honest supply chain transparency is non-existent. In the end, you see the headline or the finished product. The background and what really happens behind the scenes until the egg or milk ends up in the supermarket float hidden below the surface - surrounded by cold, brown water that makes it impossible for you to see the actual dimensions and contours of the iceberg.

Let's take an example. You read in the daily newspaper: "Antibiotic use in agriculture is declining". Sounds good! But if you dare to take a look to the right and to the left, you will see a different picture. For example, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation points out (source) that the data do not cover all types of animals and uses. On the other hand, animal numbers are also declining in some cases (source) Fewer animals - fewer antibiotics. Makes sense, right? So the declining consumption levels do not represent the success that the statement initially suggests.

Pigs in a barn

Instagram post by the Albert Switzerland Foundation on March 9, 2023: (Source)

It's similar all around your breakfast egg. Everything in butter, because finally the male chicks are now allowed to grow up? It is true that in Germany, no male chick may be killed immediately after hatching. But that does not mean that there are no more eggs in our trade where exactly this happens. Because with our European neighbors this practice is still common and so the problem is simply shifted abroad (Source).

Breakfast with breakfast egg in the front

So fortunately you're not completely alone - thanks to the good work of some NGOs. But let's be honest: How many people check the latest facts about the origin of the sausage they want to buy? Hand on heart: would you check?

Supply chain transparency: Why we know so little about our products ...

So let's not kid ourselves: in a certain way, every consumer society is also "trained" to be interested in some things - like prices - and not in some things. Moreover, there is little doubt that the average consumer is trimmed to convenience and that elaborate information research has not been part of previous shopping routines.

... and how that will soon change

But the current shopping behavior could soon be a thing of the past. Because the course is currently being set for what could be a fundamental change - both politically and socially.

Let's first take a look at politics.

Things are happening there. For example, with the German Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act. Coming into force at the beginning of 2023, it obliges companies to better check their supply chains. The aim is to improve the protection of human rights and the environment along supply chains.

The German Supply Chain Compliance Act is just a small part of the bigger picture - the Green Deal. The ambitious agenda that Ursula von der Leyen launched in 2019 is gaining momentum. The EU member states have now approved a number of climate laws (more information on the Fit For 55 legislative package). After all, the aim is to achieve nothing less than transforming Europe into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

In addition to these political prerequisites, however, a new appetite for sustainability and transparency can be experienced above all in society. The motto is less and less closing eyes, but much more often: "Look!". It is no longer purely about the product that you hold in your hands at the end. It's more and more about the story that this product tells you. Under which conditions were the raw materials extracted, which stages did the product pass through during its production and how big is the environmental impact of the production? And the story doesn't end with the finished product. Where are spare parts available or repairs possible?

Such questions are increasingly becoming the focus of consumers' purchasing decisions. So a business-as-usual approach is hardly conceivable. The changing demands of consumers must be met. The question is how. But the digital product fit could already provide a good answer.

Dive into the world of the Digital Product Passport now:

Mobile phone that show the Digital Product Passport in front of a shoe

11 views0 comments


bottom of page