As the challenges of food safety intensify throughout the world, so does the need for global traceability. Consumers put their trust in the food they eat, and the supply chains that deliver those products. Yet, supply chains are becoming more complex, and with that complexity comes risk.
Digital supply chains
Brands are faced with difficulties like managing product recalls and meeting the demands of consumers wanting to know more about the food they buy.
As digitalisation in the supply chain accelerates, alignment between trading partners is essential to achieve transparency.
There is a renewed sense of urgency for collaboration to create an “ecosystem”, where traceability solutions can easily “talk” to each other and share information between trading partners and consumers.
Senior global food industry influencers, including director at Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Veronique Discours-Buhot, shared their view on the future of traceability and the need for information sharing, “In order to really demonstrate value, traceability systems must be interoperable, easy to use and a real turnkey solution for collaboration,” said Discours-Buhot.
GS1 traceability – a solid foundation
GS1 has developed a technology-neutral framework that uses common identifiers, such as barcodes, to automatically collect and provide access to information across every step of the food supply chain, delivering visibility of products as they travel from grower to customer.
The information captured by GS1 barcodes, Data Matrix or RFID tags, contains unique global identification numbers.
These form the foundation to enable collaboration between producers, manufacturers, trading partners, consumers and regulators. It also helps link corporate and customer information in a clear and systematic way. In the future they will also enable the automation of laws and regulations.
GS1 Australia provides organisations with the added advantage of national “building blocks” and making traceability implementation possible in full alignment with other stakeholders in their sectors. These building blocks consist of:
• HACCP-certified national recall system
• National product catalogue
• National locations registry
• Consulting and Training network
The GFSI and GS1 serve the same members of the global food supply chain. Both organisations are grounded in a belief in standards and collaboration, working together to shape a better ecosystem of traceability solutions.
GFSI focusses on setting high-level food safety requirements, while GS1 focuses on how organisations can design and implement traceability solutions. Solutions that meet industry best practices and enable end-to-end interoperability and transparency.
Retailers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers are all demanding fast, accurate and complete information that can be seamlessly accessed from anywhere across the supply chain.
Questions from trading partners, consumers and regulatory authorities such as; Where was it grown? Who was involved in the supply chain? Was it produced following food safety practices? require accurate and timely responses. Information to respond to these questions is often spread across different areas and systems in the supply chain. If traceability systems are interoperable, they can easily collaborate and share information, providing greater visibility across the entire supply chain.
Another key factor for interoperable traceability is adaptable solutions.
These solutions should leverage investments based on proven technologies and make use of what is already in place (e.g. logistic labels, barcode scanners) within each company and/or its trading partners.
Big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart everything
Emerging technologies are bringing new opportunities for managing food safety. Yet technology alone will not provide global traceability.
Those developing blockchain solutions for supply chain challenges need to understand that, without common identifiers, the latest technology and devices will not be a cure-all. They run the risk of becoming another isolated system unable to integrate with existing systems.
For traceability to thrive, all stakeholders must come together and cooperate. Open, global standards, such as the GS1 Global Traceability Standard, will enable the use of technologies and automation within food production, processing and delivery processes for end-to-end traceability.
A foundation for interoperable traceability
The GS1 Global Traceability Standard provides a foundation for interoperable traceability systems, making it possible for:
• Different traceability systems to use a common language to talk to each other.
• Organisations to access, combine and interpret data from a variety of sources across the end-to-end supply chain.
• Each trading partner to choose the GS1-enabled traceability solution that best meets its specific needs.
We all win with traceability
When we collaborate, recalls can be faster and more precise, sustainability efforts can be strengthened, and customer trust can be elevated.
All of this is possible with GS1 interoperable and transparent traceability.