Social media is all about building relationships. The application of social media in businesses is easy to understand and to witness in areas of marketing and customers engagement. But how can businesses use social media to improve their supply chain? By amalgamating consumers’ relationships with supply chain management, McCormick Spice Company offers a way to use social media to improve the transparency of its processes and to differentiate itself from the competition.
McCormick Canada (Club House) was created in 1883 as Dyson & Co in London, Ontario. The company was acquired in 1959 by McCormick & Co from Baltimore, Maryland USA. Since its humble beginnings, McCormick Canada has grown to be one of the most well-known food company in the country. “Open any pantry or cupboard in any kitchen in Canada, and you’ll likely find a variety of our products, whether it be the spices for Grandma’s cookie recipe or the seasonings that add flair to your barbecue routine”. (source: McCormick Canada). The company is committed to pure flavour, which, in addition to the need to show consumers that McCormick herbs and spices offer a greater purity, has led to the Club House Pure Flavour Manifesto (source: McCormick Canada). The Manifesto is a multi-platform campaign, launched in 2016 that was created in part in reaction to the oregano ‘food fraud’.
The supply chain in the food industry is highly complex and prone to risks, due to raw ingredients supply and demand, natural disaster and climate, regulatory barriers, lead-time, cost of transportation, etc. In addition, “food commodities and ingredients that are expensive and are part of complex supply chains are particularly vulnerable” to food fraud, says a recent study by Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom (Source: Radio Canada International). The implications for consumers of economically motivated adulteration (e.i. fraudulent substitution or use of filler in food related product, without any mention on the packaging), is more and more known due to controversy associated with this practice coming out in the medias. This problem was specifically brought to consumers’ attention in 2015 with a study led by Prof Chris Elliott of the Global Institute of Food Security about fraudulent oregano. The study stated that 25% of dried oregano sold in UK and Ireland contained fillers ingredients, such as olive and myrtles (source: BBC News). Other countries, such as the U.S. and Australia, have since shared their own studies about this latest food fraud. In Canada, the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) showed that one-third of herbs and spices sold in the country “do not conform to the list of ingredients posted on product labels.” (Source: Radio Canada International).
This news prompted McCormick Corporation to develop its pure stories on some of their herbs and spices. This was a way to help educate consumers about the different quality of products in the spice aisles. “It’s important consumers learn all spices and herbs aren’t created equal, said Roger Lawrence, McCormick corporate VP for global quality assurance in 2015. (McCormick) oregano is simply oregano (…). Our oregano contains no other green leaves like myrtle, cistus and olive.” (Source: The Grocer). Zoie Fontana, Senior Product Manager for McCormick Canada, adds: “McCormick has a very unique supply chain that is something to be very proud of. A lot of consumers don’t realize the journey their spices go on, they don’t realize that Herbs & Spices are a commodity that are impacted by so many things around the world. McCormick truly believes in the power of their supply chain, if you don’t have the perfect conditions in the beginning, you won’t have pure flavour in the end. The objective of our Pure Flavour campaign is to highlight that not all spices are equal and that you should feel safe and proud when you buy a McCormick Spice.”
In order to compensate for the lack of consumer confidence following the publication of the results of those studies, and all the media coverage that followed, McCormick & Co and McCormick Canada have created their pure flavour stories. Oregano was the first on their list, to help disseminate the food fraud controversy. The emphasis on their videos is how and where they source their ingredients and in what shape and form – in the oregano case, whole leaves. Vanilla, red pepper flakes and cinnamon, and even the taco seasoning were next on the pure stories list. The videos created are available through their YouTube channel – Hello Flavour by McCormick Canada -, and the content is also shared on their website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as mainstream media such as print and TV ads.
The pure stories explain the quality, sourcing, harvesting and selection of pure ingredient in order to bottle up the pure flavours of McCormick herbs and spices.
Lessons for Others
In her article You should be using social media to improve supply chain management, Julia Fournier stated that businesses can enhance customer satisfaction with a more efficient supply chain process. This can also “create more visibility, improve communication and increase control (…)” to the message delivery and content. Furthermore, the use of social media in supply chain is way to stand out from the competition and to stop controversy before it arises, such as in the McCormick Pure Flavour example. Social media can help to communicate the complex supply chain variables to consumers and to redirect the conversation toward a company main message. “We’ve used social media to try and humanize the process and show the actual farmers we work with and how obsessed we are with the details”, says Zoie Fontana. Purity – Clarity – Visibility, even supply chain management can be flavourful on social media.
Industry: Food Ingredients and Flavours
Name of Organization Contact: Zoie Fontana, Senior Product Management
Authored by: Cami Beaulieu
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
FOURNIER, J. (August 24, 2015). You should be using social media to improve supply chain management. Retrieved from: https://www.hcmworks.com/blog/you-should-be-using-social-media-to-improve-supply-chain-management
SAWTOOTH (2016) Mc Cormick Pure Flavor Stories Online, TV, Print. Retrieved from: https://www.sawtoothgroup.com/portfolio/mccormick-purity/
HAN, E. (April 6, 2016). Food fraud: Popular oregano brands selling adulterated products. Retrieved from: https://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/food-fraud-popular-oregano-brands-selling-adulterated-products-20160405-gnygjo.html
BBC News (July 23, 2015). Dried oregano in ‘latest food fraud’ says Which? Retrieved form: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33636628
CULLEN, M. (February 17, 2018). The herbs in your herb rack may be fraudulent. Retrieved from: https://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2018/02/17/the-herbs-in-your-herb-rack-may-be-fraudulent.html
SEVUNTS, L. (April 12, 2018) One-third of spices sold in Canada spiked with fillers, says federal agency. 12 avril 2018. Retrieved from: http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2018/04/12/one-third-of-spices-sold-in-canada-spiked-with-fillers-says-federal-agency/
DON, A (July 23, 2015) Food fraud tests reveal 25% or dried oregano is adulterated. Retrieved from: https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/buying-and-supplying/food-safety/food-fraud-tests-reveal-25-of-dried-oregano-is-adulterated/522104.article