The demand for product traceability applies to a number of industries, but is especially strong for food suppliers and producers given continuing outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. And it’s not just consumer demand. Regulatory oversight of food is now a priority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and as a result, the food industry has undergone a shift into “a more preventive state with the heaviest emphasis on food traceability that we have ever seen,” writes Angela Fernandez for Food Safety Magazine.
That said, Fernandez’s article cited a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that found “…only 5 of 40 food products purchased for a traceability study could actually have all of their disparate ingredients traced back through the supply chain to their origins,” a clear sign that many companies in the food industry don’t have the technology and/or processes to collect and deliver traceability information.
Those in the food industry aren’t alone. Companies in all industries are up against a critical challenge to find a better, more efficient way of collecting, tracking and tracing the products and information that move through their supply chains. Enabling end-to-end visibility, including complete traceability, provides hard data about product quality and integrity, which can ultimately lead to supply chain transparency. Today’s customers want to know details about the authenticity and origin of what they’re buying. Providing that level of detail is no longer a luxury—it’s become a business norm that companies must be prepared to meet or risk succumbing to competitors that are more forthcoming with information. Or, in the case of the food industry, risk running afoul of compliance and regulatory requirements, a costly misstep.
Recalls are an expensive business reality. With complete traceability, you can isolate the problem down to the smallest possible unit. Instead of recalling a large (and costly) batch of products, you have the information to deal with the specific problem, which not only saves you money—it also expedites the resolution, and can turn a negative situation into one that helps support brand confidence while also protecting consumers from possible health risks as a result of contact with or consumption of a damaged or spoiled product.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “information is power.” And in today’s digital economy, that phrase has never been more apt. Between consumer concerns, business operations and increased compliance regulations, having correct, real-time information has become a business imperative. At DSI, we’ve seen it firsthand. Using our mobile supply chain solutions to enable end-to-end supply chain visibility and execution, manufacturers and distributors have gained consumer loyalty because they can see the entire product fulfillment process: where it originated, where it was created, when it’s in transit and its final consumption. When they can see that information, they have more confidence in the end product and where it came from. That kind of confidence has a significant revenue impact as it translates into sales, referrals and brand loyalty, something your company can’t afford to ignore.