As consumers become more conscious about the food they eat, manufacturers are feeling the stress of making sure to meet these changing expectations. In line with this, food traceability is becoming more vital not only to keep track of every step in the supply chain but also to guarantee the safety and product quality.
However, not every company is equipped with the know-how in food traceability implementation. This article will explain the basic steps as well as the questions you need to answer before deploying a traceability system.
What goals do you want to achieve?
Your individual goals become the starting point for implementation. If you have not yet defined your goals, perhaps it is easier to begin by considering the benefits of using a traceability system.
- Compliance with importation rules and regulations. If your business relies on the import market, food traceability is a crucial requirement by a majority of regulatory bodies in many counties like the US, Japan, and China.
- Transparency. Consumers will appreciate information transparency and increase the market value of your products.
- Faster response to recall incidents. A traceability system that functions from the start of the food supply chain until the end helps producers and retailers address recall issues faster.
- Reduce product tampering. By putting a serial number on each product, it is easier to monitor and prevent alteration.
- More insight into the supply chain. As you gain a more in-depth insight into every stage of the supply chain, you can identify deficiencies and problems which you can resolve right away.
Lastly, a food traceability system invites confidence and allows you to achieve a premium price for your product.
What is the scope of the traceability system?
After defining your goals, the next step is to determine the system’s scope. If one of your goals is to ensure faster recalls, you need a traceability system that operates from farm to distribution and retail. On the other hand, you need a different approach if your priority is compliance with import regulations. In this case, you can take retail out of the equation and only implement a system that functions until distribution.
What data do you want to collect at each step of the process?
Once again, the data captured depends on individual goals. The standard format is usually the following:
- Product identifiers such as batch code, container number, etc.
- Data related to the location of the product
- Pertinent data about date and time
- What event is involved, such as packaging, mixing, harvesting, etc.
Industry protocols will also dictate how much or how little information you can store and gather.
What information is available to consumers?
While some of the information is retained in the supply chain, some should be shared with the end-user. It is the company’s prerogative to decide what information should be made public and what to keep private. However, the focus these days is to increase transparency. As such, it is crucial to inform consumers as much as possible. If the company maintains a website or social media accounts, one way to engage consumers is to share the steps involved in making each product.
Interesting related article: “Technology is changing the food industry for the better.“