Remember the movie A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise tells Jack Nicholson that he wants the truth? And then Nicholson responds with that awesome line, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Well, guess what, consumers can. Not only do they want the truth, they’ll go somewhere else if they don’t get it.

A recent Label Insight study of more than 1,500 consumers discovered “that the vast majority of consumers value product transparency as well as consider a wide array of information about a particular product before making a purchase decision.”

We are all well aware that U.S. consumers continue to become savvier and more demanding, a result of the 2008 Great Recession and increased awareness about food safety and nutrition. The Label Insight survey confirms that total transparency has been added to the list.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Consumer Confusion:The majority of consumers (81 percent) have consumed a packaged product with an ingredient they didn’t recognize at some point in the past month
  • Added Value:More than two-thirds (83 percent) say they would find additional value in having access to more extensive product information.
  • Consumer Loyalty:More than a third of consumers surveyed (37 percent) said they would switch brands if another brand shared more detailed product information.
  • Informed Purchase Decisions:Nearly all respondents (94 percent) said that it is important to them that the brands and manufacturers they purchase products from are transparent about what is in their food and how it is made.

Surprised?Skeptical? Yes and yes. I’m sure that there are millions of consumers who don’t think twice about reading labels. But trust me, that group is shrinking. The bulk of shoppers, including yours truly, not only scans labels, but inspects them.

So it’s in your best interests as candy makers to be totally transparent. Why, because if you’re not, it’s going to come back and bite you.

Consider this piece of information from the survey: “A mere 12 percent ranked brands as their most trusted resource for information about what is in their food. That’s actually 10 percent lower than the government. And yet, 67 percent of consumers believe it is the brand or manufacturer’s responsibility to provide them with information.”

And here’s one more factoid to consider since we’re talking about brands: “Consumers value healthy ingredients four times as much as brand recognition (24 percent vs. 6 percent).”

So folks, “Dulce fecit cave!” Commit to transparency.