Kellogg’s UK last month announced that following a successful trial, new world-first technology will be permanently added to all of its Europe-bound cereal boxes to make them accessible to blind and partially sighted people.
Important information on food packaging, such as allergen details, can often be printed in typeface that’s difficult for blind or partially sighted people to read. The new boxes will allow a smartphone to easily detect a unique on-pack code and playback labelling information to the shopper with sight loss.
“This announcement from Kellogg’s is a real game changer within the packaging world. It marks a significant step-change in how big brands can put accessibility at the forefront of design and packaging decisions and be a catalyst for change," says Marc Powell, strategic accessibility lead at the UK charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). “Important information on packaging can often be in very small print, making it difficult or impossible for people with sight loss to read. Changes like this can provide blind and partially sighted people with vital information for the very first time, giving us the same freedom, independence and choice as sighted customers.
“Designing packaging so that it works for everyone makes complete sense and we hope that other brands will follow Kellogg’s lead in making packaging information more accessible.”
The company will change all its cereal packaging, beginning in 2022 with the first accessible boxes of Special K appearing on shelf in January. The idea came to life when Kellogg’s met with children from St Vincent’s in 2019, a specialist school in Liverpool for children with sensory impairment. It was the pupil’s insight that inspired the business to look for solutions.
Kellogg’s also hopes that by sharing its experience with other brands there is an opportunity to make the supermarket shelves more accessible for people with sight loss so they can shop more independently and access information from a range of packaging.
This announcement comes after a successful UK trial last year in partnership with Co-op, on Kellogg’s Coco Pops boxes. Evaluation of the pilot by charity RNIB showed that 97% of the participants agreed that they would like to see more of these accessibility features available on grocery packaging in the future.
Unlike other types of printed codes, the new technology, called NaviLens, includes high contrasting colored squares on a black background. Users do not need to know exactly where the code is located to scan it.
"Over two million people in the UK live with sight loss and are unable to simply read the information on our cereal boxes," says Chris Silcock, head of Kellogg’s UK. "As a company focused on equity, diversity and inclusion we believe that everyone should be able to access important and useful information about the food that we sell. That’s why, starting next year, we are adding new technology to all of our cereal boxes. I am proud that Kellogg’s will be the first company in the world to use NaviLens on packaging. We know it’s important that all packaging is accessible for the blind community to enable them to make shopping easier, so we will share our experience with other brands who want to learn more.”
The technology allows smartphones to pick up the on-pack code from up to 3 meters distance when a blind or partially sighted shopper points their device in the direction of the cereal box. This then alerts the phone and the shopper can choose to have the ingredients, allergen and recycling information read aloud to them – as well as reading it on their device using accessibility tools.
The technology is currently used across Barcelona, Madrid and Murcia city’s transport systems, making the cities easier to navigate for thousands of visually impaired citizens.
"The incorporation of the NaviLens codes onto food packaging is a positive step towards a more inclusive and accessible shopping experience for the visually impaired," says Javier Pita, CEO of NaviLens, the start-up company that created the technology. "This allows people with sight loss to shop more independently and make their own food choices.” - PW