Danone's customers have shown them that they value information about a product’s journey to the store shelf, as well as more customized after-sales support. This was the inspiration for Track & Connect, a platform for infant formula that offers full transparency on ingredients, sourcing and pack info.
The company is calling it 'one of the most comprehensive traceability services in the baby formula industry.' Track & Connect is powered by blockchain, serialization and aggregation technology as safe and secure methods of storing data and information on the movement of Danone’s formula products through the supply chain.
Dual QR codes on-pack
It uses two QR codes to make this happen - one on the outer packaging that provides information like when and where the product was produced in Danone’s factories. The second QR code is behind a tamper-resistant seal, and can only be scanned after purchasing the product.
The first time the inner code is scanned on a smart phone it triggers a one-time message that verifies the baby formula product is authentic. In the future, Danone said it plans to add tailored after-sales services accessed through the inner QR code.
Health and nutrition apps and information, 'how to’ parenting videos, and access to customer helplines or online e-commerce services, are all potential features of the service down the road.
David Boulanger, senior VP of operations at Danone Specialized Nutrition, told DairyReporter that retailers will also benefit from the new technology. It will provide them more insights on consumer buying habits, and help with targeted purchases, stock tracking, advanced forecasting and personalized offers like loyalty programs.
In China Track & Connect is already implemented in the Aptamil and Nutrilon brands, and Danone also has its sights set on Karicare, Laboratoire and Gallia.
“We’re very pleased to be rolling out our baby formula Track & Connect service to consumers and retailers in 2020. Thanks to this innovation in packaging and data management, we’ll be able to offer one of the most comprehensive traceability services in the baby formula industry and connect more closely to our consumers and retailers to offer them after sales services they value,” Boulanger said.
Applicable to other industries?
Long term, Danone’s plan is to help retailers gain insight into consumer buying habits and support future forecasting of supply and demand. And Boulanger anticipates that this could set a precedent for tech innovations in other industries.
“It’s clear such data driven technologies that connect different players in the food industry – from ingredient suppliers and distributors, to retailers and consumers – offer many benefits,” he said.
“When developing Track & Connect, we looked to the wider food and drink sector as well as other industries like pharmaceuticals, to see how such technologies are being used – in particular in industries where safety and quality are of the utmost importance.”
Danone said the roll-out of the Track & Connect service is being led by its customers, who are looking for and expect more information on their food. That’s why it is launching first with brands where Danone has identified the highest interest from parents and retailers.