There's been a couple of reports (here and here) published recently exploring the role transparency plays when consumers choose a product. The received wisdom is that a consumer spends 2.6seconds deciding whether to buy a typical consumer packaged good - so a brand's reputation needs to shortcut the decision making process.
Transparency is generally thought to engender greater trust and confidence in the brand, and brand reputation is the most powerful influencer of buying decisions.
Recent food safety scares (salmonella, Ecoli) and scandals (melamine) have only increased consumers' desire to know that their products are safe, and where they come from. In addition to the inexorable rise of locavores, sustainable and organic buyers, and COOL sleuths. What's interesting about the prevailing wisdom among many food execs, apparently, is that they are reluctant to share information with consumers, in case they don't understand it.
Many of the executives surveyed [in the Colman Brohan Davis report] still questioned the near-term value of deploying information to fully empower consumer decision-making.What can we be sure of? The consumer of the future will have access to unimaginable amounts of information at their fingertips (10 years ago - could we imagine Google?) through devices we can only dream of (an iPhone which reads barcodes and has great battery life). It follows that brands will want to be the authoritative sources of information about their products ... or someone else will be.