August 2022 - rfxcel.com
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DSCSA Compliance Update with Herb Wong: What’s Happening Right Now?

Herb Wong’s a busy guy. We said that the last time we did a DSCSA compliance update with him, and it’s still true today Just last week, for instance, he participated in two Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) webinars, “DSCSA 2023: How a Service Provider Can Help You Prepare” and “All About the VRS.” These were part of the HDA’s 2022 Traceability Webinar Series, which Antares Vision Group is sponsoring.

That’s why it was such a treat to get some one-on-one time with Herb for a real-time DSCSA compliance update — what’s happening right now with industry readiness.

We asked Herb to talk about what he calls “the four cornerstones” of DSCSA compliance: product identification (EPCIS and serialization), product tracing, authorized trading partners (ATPs), and verification (the Verification Router Service, or VRS). Here’s what he had to say.

DSCSA compliance update #1: product identification (EPCIS and serialization)

All solution providers’ systems are ready to send and receive serialization data in the EPCIS format, but we still need to help the industry get data flowing. To use an analogy, even though the pipes have been laid and connected, we’re just not getting enough water through to test for “leaks” in the system — errors in send/receive processing. Just as important, we need time to “flush the pipes” to ensure that we have “clean water.” By that I mean ensuring that the data is correct.

We’re trying to do everything we can. We’ve actually developed a standard process for onboarding customers and getting data exchanged with other solution partners. We’re going to be piloting this so we can refine the onboarding process. [Herb’s talking about the EPCIS Onboarding Guide Workgroup and its draft “Guide for Accelerated EPCIS Onboarding.”]

What’s the key takeaway, Herb?

The key takeaway is, “Let’s connect, let’s get the serialized data out.” Time is running out. That’s the biggest message. People who think they have time to wait until next year, you really don’t. Because what’s going to happen is similar to what happened when the lot-based laws went live: The people who waited couldn’t find help. All the solution providers were busy; everyone was busy. And everyone who waited was trying to get through the same door to meet the deadline.

So, if you’re a manufacturer, you have to start sending data early. If you’re serializing and not sending data downstream, start now. Don’t wait till the November 2023 deadline. You have to “turn on the switch.” Send your data downstream now.

At this point, we decided to ask Herb about aggregation.

DSCSA doesn’t say anything about aggregation. But wholesalers are asking for aggregation to support their business processes. When you send electronic data, wholesalers need to know what serial numbers are in the cases they just received.

Aggregation is a business requirement for operational efficiency. For example, if you get 10 cases with a hundred items in each case, you don’t want to open the cases and scan every item to see what you received and will ultimately ship. Aggregation makes things faster and more efficient. It’s similar to how VRS had both a legal and a business requirement: The legal requirement mandated a response within 24 hours for saleable returns verification. But given the potential volume of saleable returns, 24 hours was too slow for wholesalers; it would cause the receiving docs to fill up with products pending verification. For this reason, wholesalers mandated a business requirement of sub-second response times.

DSCSA compliance update #2: product tracing

A centralized solution or standard has not been defined for product tracing. A lot of different approaches have been discussed, but there’ve been no specs, no firm requirements, that solution providers can implement at this time.

Right now, we’re supporting the industry’s manual process for product tracing. The HDA, NABP, and PDG have done a really good job of outlining what’s required for tracing. [That’s the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and the Partnership for DSCSA Governance.]

They’ve walked through a series of scenarios that can be executed manually and have helped the industry to better understand the complexity and nuances of tracing a product through the system. In parallel to this effort, the PDG is working on a data format to communicate traceability requests and responses. PDG is putting that information into a JSON format to communicate the need. [JSON is the JavaScript Object Notation data interchange format. Its advantages are that it uses human-readable text and is a more compact means of communicating data.]

What’s the key takeaway, Herb?

Pay attention to the traceability scenarios that are coming out of the HDA, NABP, and PDG. They’re doing a really good job of trying to show how tracing workflows will happen. They’ll be publishing more results and helping the industry understand. Watch for these, because it will enlighten you about what’s coming in 2023.

DSCSA compliance update #3 and #4: ATPs and VRS

From a solution provider standpoint, the ATP and VRS initiatives have become one and the same. Right now, ATPs have only been applied against the VRS, so the timing for us to get that done has become one implementation effort.

When you make a VRS request, you have to prove you’re an ATP. ATP is there to confirm two things: you are who you say you are and you are authorized to transact business. Proof that you are an ATP is especially important in the VRS network since trading partners may not have direct relationships with other VRS participants.

For VRS, there’s a new version 1.3 that will be deployed before the DSCSA 2023 deadline. The current version we have is based on the 1.2 standards interface. The 1.3 version “opens up” VRS beyond what it was intended to do, which is the verification of saleable returns.

What people should know is that VRS 1.3 is not backwards-compatible. This means VRS providers have to upgrade at once. To ensure that the upgrade occurs on time, solution providers have agreed to “decouple” the 1.3 interface from the 1.3 functionality.

What this means is that everyone on the VRS network will remain connected since we will all support the new 1.3 connections. However, solution providers (or customers) who are not ready to upgrade to the new 1.3 functionality can continue to use VRS as needed. That’s going to be important because it allows us to change the interface so we can at least keep talking to each other. We can be interoperable. But not everyone has to support the features of 1.3 at the same time.

As for timing of the update, we’re talking about doing the testing of the interoperability of 1.3 in Q1 [of 2023]. So we’ll have to push this into a production environment after Q1, but we haven’t agreed on a production date.

What’s the key takeaway, Herb?

There is going to be an upgrade required soon and the industry and solution providers are working to make sure it’s easy to implement. We realize that is not as simple as a software upgrade but we need to carefully consider the revalidation requirements of our customers.

Final thoughts

And there you have it: A DSCSA compliance update about what’s happening right now with industry readiness for product identification (EPCIS and serialization), product tracing, and ATPs and VRS. Thanks, Herb!

Contact us if you have questions about what Herb talked about or the DSCSA in general. We can explain the requirements and how our solutions will help ensure you’re ready for November 2023 and the full serialization of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.

If you like, we can probably arrange a meeting with Herb. But remember, he’s busy. In the coming weeks, he’ll travel to the Antares Vision Group global HQ in Italy, visit the Group’s brand-new North America HQ in New Jersey, and join a panel discussion at the HDA Traceability Seminar in Washington, D.C. (Antares Vision Group is also a sponsor of that annual event.) So reach out today and let’s see what we can work out.

Also take a look at our DSCSA Compliance Library. It’s a clearinghouse of information with links to our blog posts, white papers, webinars — everything — about the law, including the “four cornerstones” Herb talked about in today’s DSCSA compliance update.

Why Cosmetics Supply Chain Sustainability Is the Industry’s Hottest Topic

The health and beauty industry is under increasing pressure from regulatory bodies and consumers to maintain and demonstrate due diligence in their supply chains. Forward-thinking companies are responding by making cosmetics supply chain sustainability an integral part of their mission statements and consumer engagement activities.

For example, “The Big 3” are prioritizing cosmetics supply chain sustainability. L’Oréal puts environmental and social performance at the heart of its business to drive value.  Estée Lauder’s mission is “to bring the best to everyone we touch and to support the environment in which we live.” And Unilever reports thoroughly on environmental and ethical statistics, including water, energy, greenhouse gases, waste and plastic packaging, sustainable sourcing, and community investment.

So let’s take a look at  sustainability in the cosmetics supply chain. The industry faces a slew of challenges with sustainability, such as environmental and human rights issues, counterfeiting, an evolving regulatory landscape, changes in consumer behavior, and utilizing new technologies, and all affect their decisions and processes.

What is “sustainability”?

Before we get into cosmetics supply chain sustainability, let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about sustainability generally.

Sustainability might seem to be a relatively new concept, but it has been around since the 19th century, when some industries sought to improve working environments and create less pollution. In the 1960s, new laws and organizational bodies were introduced to address pollution in the United States and Europe.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) to evaluate all major agency actions to determine if they will have a significant impact on the human environment.” Federal agencies implement NEPA and evaluate the possibility for environmental impacts by condcuting categorical exclusions, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements.

The European Commission says it “aims to ensure coherence between industrial, environmental, climate and energy policy to create an optimal business environment for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation.”

In 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, which “promotes and ensures balanced social development and sustainable environment that meet the needs of the peoples at all times.”

If you read our Global Cosmetics Market white paper, you’ll know why we used the United States, Europe, and Asia as examples: They’re the world’s top cosmetics markets — and their regulators are concerned about sustainability.

What is cosmetics supply chain sustainability?

Cosmetics supply chain sustainability addresses the environmental and human impact of products, from the sourcing and production of raw materials, through to manufacturing, packaging, distribution to the final customer, and post-consumer activities.

Increasingly, there are calls for cosmetics supply chain sustainability standards to be made mandatory. The European Parliament in March passed a resolution to tackle environmental and human rights in EU supply chains. This new Supply Chain Act will require organizations to integrate sustainability into corporate governance and management systems, and frame business decisions in terms of human rights, climate, and environmental impact.

The United States is yet to follow suit, but consumer groups are letting the government know they want tighter standards for the raw materials used in cosmetics.

Even without government mandates, organizations that want to burnish their environmental credentials would do well start with their supply chains. In a January 2021 report called Net Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity, the World Economic Forum states that companies wanting to improve their environmental and social performance can look to their supply chains to make cost-effective improvements.

Environmentally responsible production: the rise of “Clean Beauty”

Much of the drive toward sustainability is coming from consumers, who want to know that ingredients are pure (or at the very least safe) and have been ethically sourced. For example, 62 percent of Generation Z consumers (born in the late 1990s) prefer to buy from sustainable brands, and 73 percent will pay more for sustainable products.

In the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from being used in cosmetics, there is mounting pressure for stricter regulations. For example, environmental and consumer advocate groups such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) believe more chemicals should banned, like in the EU, where 1,300+ substances are prohibited from being used in cosmetics.

This is part of larger “Clean Beauty” movement that advocates for safe, clean ingredients and transparency in product labeling. According to a

Clean Beauty is also concerned with ethical sourcing of ingredients. Consumers want reassurance that their cosmetics are not linked to issues such as deforestation, pollution, and animal or child cruelty. The primary problem here is that a wide variety of cosmetic products use a few “core” ingredients, many of which pose unique challenges for achieving sustainability in the cosmetics supply chain. They are difficult to obtain sustainably and ethically, and child labor, poor working conditions, and illegal mining are common.

For example, a 2016 report from the Amsterdam-based nonprofit Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) found that more than 20,000 children are forced to work in mica mines while their families live in severe poverty. Similarly, palm oil, the global market for which is expected to reach $57.2 billion by 2026, has a history of human rights problems. Palm oil is used for moisturizing or texture effects.

As more companies stake their reputations on being sustainable and consumers become more aware and demanding, it’s certain that the call for cosmetics supply chain sustainability will only get stronger.

How can we achieve cosmetics supply chain sustainability?

As we’ve seen, cosmetics companies operate in a challenging environment where many groups — including consumers, perhaps their most important audience — are calling for them to achieve sustainability in their supply chains.

To be successful, they must be able to adapt to changes in the market as technology, product development, and consumer sentiment shape the industry. Whether it’s faster production methods, demand for new products, or desire for ethical and sustainable options, companies must be able to change with the market if they want to survive and succeed.

The key takeaway is that cosmetics supply chain sustainability is not a pipe dream. Technology and solutions exist right now to help companies evaluate their operations and identify strengths, weaknesses, and pain points and take corrective action. These include supply chain digitalization, cloud-based data systems, and real-time monitoring. For instance, a 2021 report by Gartner said that digitalization is a key enabler of agility because it supports a more transparent, automated, intelligent, and orchestrated end-to-end supply chain.

Final thoughts

Sustainability. Consumers want it. More and more regulators are demanding it. It’s good for the planet. It’s good for people. It’s a business best practice.

Is it difficult to attain sustainability? Yes and no. It is a process. It has a lot of moving parts that may require tough decisions. But if a company has the will to be sustainable, it can develop strategies, chart a course, and get to work … and reap the benefits.

Technology is essential for sustainability. rfxcel and Antares Vision Group are committed to helping companies meet their sustainability goals and empowering them to protect product, profit, people, and planet.

Our Traceability System enables you to see and follow everything in your supply chain in real time from virtually anywhere in the world. It makes every product a “digital asset” with a certified, sharable provenance that proves to consumers and regulators that your sustainability initiatives are real and working as intended. Its intuitive, scalable solutions can be used individually or as a complete platform to shepherd sustainability initiatives to completion and create end-to-end traceability, transparency, and visibility.

Contact us today to see how it works. And be sure to check out our other resources about the cosmetics industry, sustainability, and traceability:

What Is the Healthcare Value Chain and Why Is It Important?

In the healthcare sector, delayed, lost, and damaged products can cause grave danger, as patients might not receive the medicines they need on time and many items are susceptible to fluctuations in environmental conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to have a reliable and robust healthcare value chain.

Let’s examine the critical role that the healthcare value chain plays. Our technologies and solutions help pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other healthcare stakeholders streamline and manage their entire supply chain, from procurement to distribution.

Understanding the healthcare value chain

Most may believe that the value chain and supply chain are synonymous. However, they are two different terms describing different aspects of supply logistics. The supply chain refers to the movement of goods from suppliers to customers; the value chain encompasses all activities involved in creating and delivering a product or service.

In other words, the supply chain is more about the physical movement of goods and the value chain adds value to a product, including production, marketing, and customer support after the sale. So, the healthcare value chain allows medical institutions to provide patients with the best possible care by ensuring they have the supplies and treatments they need when they need them.

What happens in a healthcare value chain?

Understanding the activities involved in the healthcare value chain is the first step in managing and streamlining its processes. We’re talking about logistics, operations, marketing and sales, and service.

Inbound logistics. The value chain is not a product-driven process, so explaining inbound logistics can be challenging. Generally, inbound logistics in a value chain refers to the quality of inventory and the management of that inventory. Value-driven inbound logistics ensures that all inventory is accounted for and is of the highest quality. This includes checking that items are not expired or damaged and meet all necessary requirements (e.g., internal quality control, standard operating procedures).

Operations. The operations stage of the healthcare value chain is where the actual product or service is produced. In this value-driven scenario, product operations and/or manufacturing aim to reduce waste and create efficiencies. This might involve automating processes, changing production methods, and improving the quality of raw materials. In healthcare, the goal of operations might be to streamline the manufacturing of drugs or medical devices.

Outbound logistics. Like inbound logistics, outbound logistics in a value chain should strive to ensure that a product or service reaches the customer in the best possible condition and in a timely manner. In healthcare, this means making sure that patients receive their supplies and treatments when they need them, as well as ensuring products are safe and legitimate.

It’s also important to note that outbound logistics isn’t just about the distribution of supplies outside a warehouse. It also concerns how medical institutions distribute supplies internally. This is important to consider when managing a hospital or other medical facility.

Marketing and sales. Marketing and sales in the healthcare value chain focus on creating demand for a product or service. Traditionally, this includes advertising, promotions, and other marketing initiatives. In a value-driven context, marketing and sales are strategically designed to go beyond a one-time sale to create long-term relationships with customers. There are numerous ways to do this, ranging from creating educational materials for patients and promoting online services to partnering with insurance providers.

Service. The service stage of the healthcare value chain is where post-sales activities occur, such as continuing customer support, repairs, and maintenance. Value-driven service helps maintain customer satisfaction with the product or service and helps ensure their needs are being met. Customer loyalty programs, follow-up communications, and offering extended warranties are common examples.

The healthcare value chain in numbers

Now that we’ve summarized the different stages of the healthcare value chain, let’s look at some numbers that help illustrate why these processes are so vital to the healthcare industry.

One 2019 report found that clinicians devote about 17 percent of their time to logistics and storage management activities. This affects their productivity and the quality of care they can provide.

The report also found that more than 4,500 different medical devices and products are recalled every year — and 10 percent of these have the potential to cause harm or death. One study published by the well-known consulting outfit McKinsey & Company reported that the “costs of a single non-routine quality event, like a major recall, have been as high as $600 [million] in medical device companies.”

The long-term business benefits of an effective healthcare value chain

An effective healthcare value chain creates benefits beyond improving quality of care and securing patient safety and satisfaction. It creates business benefits, including:

Improved profitability. An effective healthcare value chain can boost a bottom line by improving supply systems, reducing waste, and creating efficiencies across healthcare systems.

Promoting innovation. Less waste and more efficient systems mean savvy companies can devote more resources to R&D that can lead to innovation in all realms, including the development of new treatments or therapies and better manufacturing and distribution schemes.

Helping meet business goals. An effective healthcare value chain contributes to business success by reducing waste, increasing efficiencies, and promoting innovation. It also helps businesses connect with customers and build brand loyalty.

Final thoughts

What’s the main takeaway from this overview of the healthcare value chain? Establishing an agile and robust value chain is essential to success in the healthcare industry — in every industry.

We’ve specialized in creating software solutions for the healthcare value chain (and the healthcare supply chain) for almost 20 years. Our No. 1 priority is to help businesses optimize their operations and improve the quality of the products they manufacture and deliver to consumers.

For the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, this means providing a digital traceability platform that helps ensure your devices and medications are safe, are transported following proper protocols (e.g., routes and environmental parameters), are delivered on time, and meet all regulatory requirements. It means real-time data and visibility into every aspect of your operations from virtually any location in the world.

rfxcel and Antares Vision Group understand the healthcare value chain, its complexities, and how to optimize it for patient security, customer satisfaction, and business success. Contact us today to schedule a short demo of our solutions. Our experts will answer your questions and show you why major global healthcare and pharmaceutical companies rely on our technology to secure and improve their operations.

 

 

Cosmetics Supply Chain Transparency for Business Value and Opportunity

Today, we’re looking at what cosmetics supply chain transparency means, why it matters, and how cosmetic companies can achieve it through the use of technology and gain much more than just a healthier bottom line.

Cosmetics supply chain transparency vs. traceability

Cosmetics supply chain transparency means the whole supply chain is visible, from raw materials, production, and packaging to delivery to retailers and, ultimately, consumers. A lack of transparency in complex supply chains that move billions of products can cause significant risks to both consumer and product owner.

Transparency results from creating a full, shareable, fact-based profile of every aspect of the supply chain. It is a means for companies to support its claims (e.g., product provenance, sustainability, ethical sourcing) and tell the world, “We are what we say we are.” In this way, transparency is a strategic concept — one more and more cosmetic companies are adopting because of its significant benefits for operational efficiency, consumer engagement, brand protection, and profitability.

Traceability most often concerns individual products and aggregations (e.g., boxes, cartons, pallets) and observing/monitoring them as they make their way through the supply chain. It is a means to identify, follow, and verify what’s in your supply chain, as well as comply with regulations that mandate traceability through serialization and digitalization.

Cosmetics supply chain transparency for business value

It’s the global cosmetics market will grow from $287.94 billion in 2021 to $415.29 billion in 2028. Indeed, there are signs the market is booming. For example, L’Oréal, the world’s largest beauty brand, reported record profits last year, with CEO Nicolas Hieronimus, recently commenting, “2021 was a historic year for L’Oréal … Over two years, the Group achieved growth of +11.3 percent like-for-like, spectacularly outperforming a market that had returned almost to 2019 levels.”

The other leading cosmetics brands also did well in 2021. Unilever reported just over $24 billion in beauty and personal care sales, and Estée Lauder had $16.2 billion in sales, an increase of 13 percent over last year.

The “Big 3” of the cosmetics industry have something in common other than strong market performance: Each is committed to transparency and puts it front and center in their business strategy and mission. For example, L’Oréal held a virtual “Transparency Summit” last year, Unilever equates transparency with “integrity,” and Estée Lauder has a dedicated supply chain transparency page on its website.

Transparency and risk management

Despite the opportunity for growth, however, global supply chain challenges can threaten a company’s ability to satisfy growing consumer demand. We all know about the supply chain weaknesses revealed during the pandemic, including overreliance on manufacturing hubs and shipping bottlenecks, not to mention changes in consumer expectations and the way they want to buy and interact with cosmetics.

In a rapidly evolving landscape of tougher regulations, ongoing supply chain uncertainty, increased consumer expectations, and brand risk, transparency has become foundational for success.

Regulatory compliance. Cosmetics regulations vary around the world. For instance, laws in the EU are much broader than in the United States. Generally, however, companies are responsible for making sure their cosmetics are safe, properly labeled, and comply with the regulations that apply to them.

Furthermore, more and more regulatory bodies are calling for modernization via the adoption of digital technologies to ensure products are safe and that companies are able to remain compliant as regulations evolve. Cosmetics supply chain transparency (and traceability) is crucial to compliance. Read our “Global Cosmetics Market” white paper to learn more about regulations in key markets and how technology is driving the industry.

Counterfeits and fakes. And as we’ve written before, counterfeiting is a big problem for the cosmetics industry. Fake products endanger consumers’ health. They can contain toxic substances such bacteria, animal waste, and carcinogenic substances (e.g., lead).

Counterfeits and fakes also damage profits. In “Global Trade in Fakes: A Worrying Threat” (June 2021), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that the global value of counterfeits and pirated goods amounted to as much as $464 billion in 2019, or 2.5 percent of world trade.

Brand reputations are also jeopardized by counterfeits. One bad (or very bad) experience can send customers to your competitors and tarnish your image, especially as consumers broadcast their opinions online. Our brand protection series talks more about counterfeits. It’s a real problem that every industry must contend with.

Diversion, theft, and gray markets. The complexity of global supply chains makes it possible for products to end up in markets where they shouldn’t be. Unauthorized or unofficial distribution channels shepherd expired, damaged, or otherwise compromised goods to unauthorized third-party sellers that consumers may think are legitimate. A product bound for Asia winds up in the United Kingdom.

Transparency is not a singular solution for these problems, but it is an indispensable facet of a coordinated, integrated supply chain management strategy to mitigate risk and create real business value.

Mainstreaming sustainability and ESG reporting

As we’ve noted, consumers are demanding more information about the products they purchase; they want to know that ingredients have been ethically sourced and are safe. They want a trust-based relationship with their brands — and if they don’t get it, they’ll happily take their business elsewhere.

This means cosmetics companies must be vigilant and forthcoming about everything in their operations, from their labor standards and how they source raw materials to packaging and other fundamentals of their supply chains. In response, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting has become more prevalent.

ESG reporting measures a company’s social and environmental performance through its supply chain and operations. Cosmetics companies are under pressure, not least from consumers, to reduce their environmental and social impact, set up monitoring systems, use sustainable materials, and publish their social credentials. In this way, ESG reporting is part of cosmetics supply chain transparency.

Or, more accurately, cosmetics supply chain transparency enables effective, accurate ESG reporting.

Leading cosmetics companies are now using ESG reporting, or some form of it, as a strategic tool to monitor their success in sustainability. For example, in 2021, L’Oréal implemented “L’Oréal for the Future,” its sustainability program for 2030. Without mincing words, it prioritizes transparency in product manufacturing, transport, the sourcing and quality of ingredients, sustainability, and more:

“Our commitments towards 2030 mark the beginning of a more radical transformation and embody our view as to what a company’s vision, purpose and responsibilities should be to meet the challenges facing the world.”

Ironically, ESG has enabled some bad players to essentially fake their declarations of transparency and sustainability. It’s called “greenwashing,” when “a company purports to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but actually isn’t making any notable sustainability efforts.” Greenwashing is the antithesis of transparency. It’s unethical, and companies that engage in it never intend to meet or quantify their stated transparency, sustainability, and ESG claims.

We’ll be talking more about cosmetics supply chain sustainability tomorrow. Be sure to visit our blog for that.

Final thoughts

Cosmetics supply chain transparency benefits consumers and brand owners alike. For consumers, it means products are safe and legitimate, comply with regulations, and demonstrably rise to the company’s sustainability and ESG goals. For brand owners, transparency offers greater operational efficiencies, mitigates common supply chain risks, and creates opportunities to burnish their reputations, engage with consumers, and tell them with certainty that your products and processes are what you say they are.

Is it difficult to attain transparency? No. Our Traceability System enables companies to follow everything in their supply chains in real time from virtually anywhere in the world. It makes every product a “digital asset” with a certified, provable, and sharable provenance. Its intuitive, scalable solutions can be used individually or as a complete platform to create transparency and end-to-end supply chain traceability and visibility. rfxcel and Antares Vision Group are committed to bringing transparency to all supply chains. We can show you how we do it in about 15 minutes, so contact us to schedule a demo.

And if you’re interested in a transparency case study of sorts, read our global seafood “Transparency Trilogy.” What’s true for seafood is true for cosmetics: Its supply chain reaches into remote areas and involves vulnerable populations and threatened resources.

FDA DSCSA Guidance Update: EPICS, ATPs, and the Countdown to 2023

If androids dream of electric sheep, do pharma stakeholders dream of GS1’s Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard? Considering recent FDA DSCSA guidance and the industry reaction, the answer could very well be “yes.”

On July 5, the FDA published two draft guidance documents about the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). One deals with using electronic standards for tracing pharmaceutical products in the U.S. supply chain and one addresses authorized trading partners (ATPs):

Let’s take a closer look at the FDA DSCSA guidance and where the pharma industry stands as we count down to November 27, 2023. That’s when manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and dispensers will be required to exchange serialized product information and verify their ATP status.

Quick history of FDA DSCSA guidance

The FDA has released DSCSA guidance and policy documents since 2014, most of which are all available on the Agency’s “Drug Supply Chain Security Act Law and Policies” page. This year, in addition to the July draft guidance, the Agency published the following:

What did the July FDA DSCSA guidance say?

The FDA said the July documents updated guidance from November 2014 and August 2017 that was never finalized.

Electronic traceability standards/EPCIS

The new FDA DSCSA guidance for electronic traceability standards confirms that paper-based product tracing “will no longer be permitted and verification of product at the package level will be required, unless a waiver, exception, or exemption applies.” Furthermore, it recommends that stakeholders use EPCIS to exchange information.

It’s worth quoting the guidance at length, as the Agency clearly states its position on EPCIS, including that it will “help secure” DSCSA compliance:

FDA recommends that trading partners use the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard to provide and maintain the data associated with transaction information and transaction statements. EPCIS is a global GS1 standard that allows trading partners to capture and share information about products as they are transacted through the supply chain. Use of EPCIS can support and enable electronic and interoperable interfaces used by trading partners to help ensure compliance with the DSCSA requirements and is compatible with a range of different technological approaches. FDA believes that EPCIS is an appropriate globally recognized standard, and FDA understands there is considerable agreement among stakeholders that EPCIS is a suitable standard to adopt for the enhanced drug distribution security requirements.

The comment period for this guidance ends September 6.

Identifying trading partners

The FDA said it issued this guidance “to assist industry and state and local governments in understanding how to categorize the entities in the drug supply chain in accordance with the” DSCSA. It also does the following:

      • Explains how to determine when certain statutory requirements will apply to entities that are considered trading partners.
      • Discusses the activities of private-label distributors, salvagers, and returns processors and reverse logistics providers.
      • Discusses the distribution of drugs for emergency medical reasons, office use, non-human research purposes, and research purposes in humans under an investigational new drug application.

The comment period for this guidance also ends September 6.  As for licensure for trading partners, the FDA put a reminder on its DSCSA page that wholesalers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are required “to report licensure and other information to FDA annually under sections 503(e)(2) and 584 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” The intro on this page references the July 5 draft guidance.

Industry reaction to the FDA DSCSA guidance

The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) earlier this month published an excellent article about industry reaction. Here are some of the key takeaways:

      • Trading partners need to begin testing and piloting data exchanges now to identify and remedy any glitches.
      • Manufacturers in particular need to focus on data accuracy to ensure legitimate products aren’t rejected.
      • The FDA must clarify if web portals will be allowed for data exchanges. Web portals are a good solution for smaller companies (e.g., dispensers) that might not have the means to build compliant tracing systems from scratch.
      • The FDA should finalize its proposed rule on licensing standards for 3PLs.

Final thoughts

The July FDA DSCSA guidance was another important marker along the 10-year rollout of the law. We’ll be writing more about this next week, when we sit down with Herb Wong, rfxcel’s senior vice president of product and strategy.

If you don’t know Herb, he’s a DSCSA guru who’s been deeply involved in outreach, education, and initiatives to help the industry prepare for November 2023. For example, he was integral to the formation of the EPCIS Center of Excellence and led our FDA-approved pilot to extend testing of the Verification Router Service (VRS). He was also recently name-checked by the Open Credentialing Initiative (OCI), which focuses on meeting ATP requirements, for his “collaborative spirit and dedication to improving the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.”

So check back next week for our conversation with Herb. In the meantime, if you have questions or feel you’re not on track to comply by November 2023, contact us today to build a solution tailored to your exact needs. Also visit our DSCSA Compliance Library to access our extensive collection of articles, webinars, white papers, and news.

Everything You Need to Know About Kazakhstan Pharma Serialization

Welcome to Part 2 of our series about Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements. Part 1 detailed the country context, including government efforts to achieve pharma independence. October 1, 2022, is the next deadline in the rollout of Kazakhstan pharma serialization, so today we’ll get into the specifics of the regulations, as well as regulations for other key industries. Let’s get started.

Kazakhstan pharma serialization: pilot, goals, operator, timeline, marking requirements

The transformation of Kazakhstan’s pharmaceutical supply chain began almost seven years ago, when the government in September 2015 issued guidelines on labeling, marking, and requirements for accessing and uploading data to a central portal. In November of the same year, the Ministry of Health tapped GS1 Kazakhstan to conduct a pilot for the traceability system, which is called the Special Information System for Marking and Traceability of Goods (IS MPT).

Pilot

The pilot ran from Sept. 9, 2019, to July 31, 2021. It was led by Kazakhstan’s state-run distributor, SK Pharmacy, which labeled 100,000 packages of 30 different drugs and traced them all the way through the supply chain to hospitals and pharmacies. Four domestic manufacturers, 1 importer, 2 distributors, 5 pharmacies, and 8 medical institutions also participated.

Goals

The goals of Kazakhstan pharma serialization — and labeling of other product categories — are essentially the same as regulatory goals in other countries:

      • Communicating product information to consumers
      • Combating counterfeit and falsified products
      • Eliminating gray markets (“Shadow market” seems to be the preferred term in Kazakhstan.)
      • Protecting consumers
      • Protecting legal businesses
      • Identifying entities that violate tax laws

The Kazakh government has also said that digital labeling will help businesses increase productivity, improve logistics, increase market share, ultimately leading to increased revenue.

IS MPT Operator

Kazakhtelecom JSC, the country’s largest telecommunications company, operates the IS MPT. Sometimes referred to as “the Single Operator,” it’s the equivalent of Russia’s Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT) and Uzbekistan’s CRPT Turon. Its main offices are in Nur-Sultan (formally Astana) and Almaty.

As operator, Kazakhtelecom JSC is responsible for the following:

      • Generating marking codes
      • Providing traceability to the state
      • Interacting with the integrated system of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and operators in other Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) states
      • Providing a digital passport of goods for market participants
      • Developing a free mobile application (NAQTY SAUDA) ​​to accept and withdraw marked goods from circulation (primarily for participants who are unable to purchase scanners)
      • Developing a free mobile application (NAQTY ÓNIM) for the public to participate in the system
      • Creating a 24/7 IS MPT contact center

In official government reporting dated Nov. 17, 2020, Kazakhtelecom JSC’s Chair of the Board Kuanyshbek Yessekeyev talked about the benefits of the IS MT. “Among its main advantages,” he said, “one can single out a decrease in the shadow market by 50 percent until 2025, which will lead to additional budget revenues by 2025 in the amount of 58.4 billion tenge [$122.5 million], according to our calculations.”

Yessekeyev also concluded that additional legal business revenues would reach 336.5 billion tenge [$706.5 million] by 2025.

Timeline

Here are the key dates for Kazakhstan pharma serialization:

Planning and pilot

      • September 2015: The government issues guidelines on labeling, marking, and requirements for accessing and uploading data to a central portal.
      • November 2015: The Ministry of Health taps GS1 Kazakhstan to conduct a pilot for IS MT.
      • 2018–2019: GS1 Kazakhstan conducts testing for the pilot.
      • Sept. 9, 2019: The pilot begins.
      • July 31, 2021: The pilot ends and the government issues serialization guidelines.
      • August 8, 2021: The Ministry of Health identifies 93 products — about 1% of all drugs in the country — for the first phase of serialization.

Rollout (note upcoming deadlines in October and early 2023)

      • June 5, 2022: The Ministry of Health delays the first phase of serialization from May 2022 until August 1, 2022.
      • August 2022: Mandatory serialization for the 93 products begins. This list includes drugs produced by four Kazakh manufacturers and 12 foreign manufacturers.
      • October 1, 2022: Mandatory serialization for 20% of drugs scheduled to begin.
      • January 1, 2023: Mandatory serialization for 60% of drugs and mandatory data reporting for 20% of drugs scheduled to begin.
      • April 1, 2023: Mandatory serialization of at least 80% of drugs scheduled to begin.
      • July 1, 2023: Mandatory serialization of 100% of drugs scheduled to begin

Note: At present, Kazakhstan pharma serialization regulations do not require aggregation.

Marking requirements

As in other EAEU and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries (e.g., Russia and Uzbekistan, respectively), products must be labeled with a DataMatrix code with four data points:

      1. A 14-digit product code (i.e., Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN) (GS1 Application Identifier 01)
      2. A 13-character randomized serial number (21)
      3. A four-character verification key (91)
      4. A 44-character verification code (92)

The maximum cost of one code will be 2.68 tenge ($0.0056) without VAT. Every code goes through the same five steps during its “lifetime”:

      1. The manufacturer applies a code to every package and sends them to a distributor.
      2. The distributor receives and scans the products, then sends them to the retailer (e.g., a store or supermarket).
      3. The retailer receives the new (legal) batch of goods, scans the codes, and sells the products.
      4. At checkout, the cashier scans each code (either with a scanner or using the NAQTY SAUDA app) and it’s withdrawn from circulation.
      5. Consumers can use the NAQTY ÓNIM app to learn more about the product.

Here are some images of the apps:

Kazakhstan pharma serialization Naqty Sauda

 

Other regulated products/industries

In 2019, Kazakhstan ratified an agreement for labeling of goods within the territory of the EAEU. In doing so, it agreed to the EEC’s decisions concerning labeling of fur products, shoes, perfumes, tires, and other products. Here is the latest information from IS MPT:

      • Tobacco products: Mandatory labeling of cigarettes began Oct. 1, 2020; April 1, 2021, for cigars, cigarillos, and other categories.
      • Fur products: Mandatory labeling began March 1, 2019.
      • Footwear: Production and import of unmarked shoes have been prohibited since Nov. 1, 2021; sale of unmarked shoes has been prohibited since April 1, 2022.
      • Alcohol: Mandatory labeling began April 1, 2021.
      • Light industry (primarily clothing and linens): A pilot ran from Dec. 15, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021.
      • Dairy products: A pilot began on Oct. 1, 2020, and was extended in November 2021.
      • Soft drinks: A pilot ran from July 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2022
      • Jewelry: A pilot began in March 2022 and is scheduled to end on Oct. 31, 2022.

Final thoughts

That’s a lot to think about. We’ve provided the granular details of Kazakhstan pharma serialization requirements, but let’s boil them down to what you have to be ready for in just a few weeks: Mandatory serialization for 20 percent of drugs starts on October 1.

If this affects you, are you ready? The good news is that complying with Kazakhstan pharma serialization requirements doesn’t have to be difficult. The fastest way to ensure you’re ready for the October deadline — and all the 2023 deadlines — is to contact us and walk through our solutions with one of our supply chain experts.

We offer a holistic, fully validated, preconfigured, automated platform for compliance and L1-L5 connectivity. With rfxcel and Antares Vision Group, you’ll be prepared for regulations in the EAEU and everywhere else your supply chain goes.

 

Kazakhstan Serialization and Traceability Requirements, Part 1

We posted an Uzbekistan pharma serialization update the other day. This got us thinking about Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements, as Uzbekistan’s neighbor to the north is working to localize production, digitalize its infrastructure, and incentivize continued growth in key sectors, including pharmaceuticals.

So, welcome to the first of our two-part series about Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements. As we did in our series about the Africa supply chain, we’re going to start with context — information about the efforts mentioned above and a snapshot of what’s happening with the pharma industry. Part 2 will get into the specifics of Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements in pharma and other sectors.

Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements in context

To understand Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements, we must first understand what the country is doing to foster economic growth, including modernizing its infrastructure,  developing its business enabling environment, and improving the lives of its citizens. Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening.

The Economy of Simple Things

Launched in March 2019, the Economy of Simple Things program is designed to increase domestic production of mostly low-tech, everyday consumer goods and services. The government also hopes to simultaneously boost demand for these goods, decrease reliance on imports, and increase “Made in Kazakhstan” exports.

The program was funded with 1 trillion tenge (almost $2.4 billion in 2019), of which 400 billion tenge (approximately $953 million) was earmarked for manufacturing and services. It was originally slated to end in July 2022 but was extended until the end of 2023.

When Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov announced the continuation, he said the Economy of Simple Things had subsidized more than 1,100 projects valued at almost $2.1 billion, had helped increase production output and payment of taxes by 33 percent and 80 percent, respectively, and had retained and created 67 jobs.

Digital Kazakhstan

Digital Kazakhstan aims to utilize digital technologies to “allow the economy, business, and citizens to enter a fundamentally new development trajectory.” It began in 2018; barring an extension, it will end this year.

The “new development trajectory” means Kazakhstan will work to transition to a digital economy that will improve people’s quality of life. The initiative focuses on five areas, each with publicly stated goals for “What will change/be changed by 2022”:

      1. Digitization of the economy: reorganization of the economy using technology to increase productivity and growth; focused on businesses of all sizes. Example of “what will change by 2022”: Labor productivity will increase to the level of “TOP-30 world countries.”
      1. Transition to the digital state: transformation of infrastructure to provide services for and anticipate the demands of people and business; calls for “open, transparent, and convenient opportunities” that can be accessed online 24/7. Example of “what will be changed by 2022”: Government services available in electronic format will increase by 80 percent.
      1. Implementation of the digital Silk Way: development of a high-speed, secure infrastructure for data transfer, storage, and processing (i.e., internet access and high-quality mobile communications coverage). Example of “what will change by 2022”: ICT development will reach the level of “TOP-30 countries.”
      1. Evolution of the human capital assets: transformational changes to enable a creative society and the “transition to the new realities”; calls for a knowledge-based economy and digital literacy through innovations in education. Example of “what will be changed by 2022”: Digital literacy will increase to 83 percent.
      1. Innovative ecosystem formation: foster a supportive environment for technological entrepreneurship and industry innovation characterized by stable relations between business, academic institutions, and government. Example of “what will be changed by 2022”: The Astana Hub will become an “international park of IT start-ups.”

Promoting pharma independence

According to the United Nations Comtrade database, a repository of official international trade statistics and relevant analytical tables, Kazakhstan’s pharma imports were valued at $1.56 billion in 2020.

The country’s efforts to attain pharma independence date to at least the mid-2010s. In 2014, for example, the now-discontinued State Program of Accelerated Industrial-Innovative Development (SPAIID) aimed to increase the share of domestically produced medicines to 40-50 percent of the overall market.

How far have they come toward that goal? In October 2020, The Asana Times reported that “the share of domestic manufacturers in the procurement of medicines and medical devices has grown to 30 percent and continues to grow steadily.” It also reported the following:

      • In the first eight months of 2020, production volume increased 34.1 percent, reaching 81.5 billion tenge ($190.28 million).
      • Investments into the industry reached 5.2 percent and 4.1 billion tenge ($9.57 million).

For a little more context, consider these stats from an analysis published in early 2021:

      • In 2018, Kazakh pharma manufacturers produced products valued at 42 billion tenge (about $88 million at current exchange rates).
      • In the first 9 months of 2019, the market for finished pharmaceutical products had grown to 460 billion tenge (about $966 million today), a 22-percent year-on-year increase.

To fuel growth, the government in September 2020 adopted the “Comprehensive Plan for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry” through 2025. As reported in the Asana Times, the plan includes the following benchmarks:

      • Thirty new large pharmaceutical operations valued at 77.8 billion tenge ($163.4 million in 2020 dollars)
      • Double medicine production to 230 billion tenge ($537.55 million)
      • Triple exports to 75 billion tenge ($175.10 million)
      • Train more than 2,000 specialists and create permanent jobs for them
      • Increase domestic pharmaceutical production to 50 percent in physical terms

Furthermore, then-Prime Minister Askar Mamin directed the government to scale up support for the domestic pharma industry, especially by stimulating clinical and preclinical trials. He also tasked the Ministries of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Healthcare, and Foreign Affairs to incentivize blue-chip pharma companies to set up shop in Kazakhstan.

One last note for further context: Striving for pharma self-sufficiency isn’t a new idea. For example, earlier this year we wrote about Egypt’s Gypto Pharma City. The Egyptian government envisions this “medicine city” as a regional hub for the international pharmaceutical and vaccine industries, calling it “one of the most important national projects … with the aim of possessing the modern technological and industrial capacity in this vital field.”

Final thoughts

On August 8, the Kazakh Trade and Integration Ministry reported that the country boosted its exports to $34.2 billion between January and May 2022, a 37.2 percent increase over the same period last year.

It seems, then, that the Economy of Simple Things, Digital Kazakhstan, and the Comprehensive Plan for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry are reaping dividends. They’re promoting the economic vitality that will help propel the implementation of Kazakhstan serialization and traceability requirements across diverse industries, from pharmaceuticals to footwear.

We’ll talk about those requirements next week in in Part 2. In the meantime, take a look at our solutions for Kazakhstan and the other countries in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). You can also contact us to schedule a short demo of our technologies — rfxcel and Antares Vision Group are committed to ensuring you’re compliant everywhere you do business.

Uzbekistan Pharma Serialization Update: September 1 Deadline & More

We’ve been following the Uzbekistan pharma serialization rollout as part of our ongoing survey of global pharmaceutical regulations and compliance.

As we wrote in mid-February 2022, the country’s State Tax Committee “extend[ed] the timeframe for the phased introduction of mandatory digital markings” of pharmaceutical products. That announcement, however, didn’t stipulate a new deadline.

So, what’s the latest with Uzbekistan pharma serialization? Let’s take a look.

Uzbekistan pharma serialization and Resolution No. 149

On April 2 of this year, Uzbekistan’s Cabinet of Ministers adopted Resolution No. 149, “On the introduction of a system of mandatory digital labeling of medicines and medical devices.” This established the following labeling deadlines for medicinal products and medical devices:

      • September 1, 2022: products produced with secondary (external) packaging (except for orphan drugs)
      • November 1, 2022: products produced with primary (internal) packaging (provided there is no secondary packaging) and medical agricultural products (except for orphan drugs)
      • March 1, 2023: products and medical products to treat orphan diseases as designated by the Ministry of Health
      • March 1, 2023: drugs included in the register of drugs with foreign registrations, the results of which are recognized in Uzbekistan
      • February 1, 2025: medical products on a list approved by tax authorities and the Ministry of Health

Additionally, there seems to be a grace period for the mandatory labeling in two circumstances:

      • Products that were produced domestically within 90 days of these deadlines do not have to be labeled and may be circulated.
      • Products that were imported within 180 days of these deadlines do not have to be labeled and may be circulated.

More about the labeling requirements

The Uzbekistan traceability system is called ASL BELGISI. It’s managed by CRPT Turon, the equivalent of Russia’s Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT), which manages Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System (Chestny ZNAK).

The regulations currently apply to five product categories other than medicines and medical devices: tobacco; alcohol, including wine and wine products; beer and brewing products; appliances; and water and soft drinks.

Products in every regulated industry must be labeled with DataMatrix codes that include four data points:

      • A 14-digit product code (i.e., Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN)
      • A 13-character randomized serial number generated by CRPT Turon or a supply chain participant
      • A four-character verification key generated by CRPT Turon
      • A 44-character verification code (i.e., crypto code) generated by CRPT Turon

To learn more about Uzbekistan pharma serialization, how ASL BELGISI works, and labeling requirements, read our “Uzbekistan Traceability Update” from earlier this year. Keep in mind that we wrote this before the first deadline delay and adoption of Resolution No. 149.

Final thoughts

The Uzbekistan pharma serialization deadlines are upon us — about three weeks away. Since its inception, ASL BELGISI has been a hot topic in the industry, especially in key pharma-producing countries.

India, for example, has taken a keen interest in the requirements. One recent article reported that Indian pharma companies are “looking for more clarity over regulations and technical standards … and looking for a transition period to migrate to digital labeling.” The same article noted several other interesting points:

      • India’s pharma exports to Uzbekistan more than doubled in fiscal year 2020-21.
      • India’s export of pharma products to Uzbekistan totaled $137 million in 2021.
      • Uzbekistan’s pharma market is valued at $1.5 billion.
      • There are opportunities for investment and exports in Uzbekistan’s oncology and dermatology sectors.

The good news is that we can help you navigate Uzbekistan pharma serialization requirements no matter where you’re based — India, Asia, the EU, the UK, Latin America, the United States. We have experts in all of these markets, and rfxcel and Antares Vision Group are committed to ensuring you’re compliant everywhere you do business. Contact us today and schedule a short demo of our award-winning Traceability System and our Compliance Management solution.

 

Why FDA Food Traceability Regulations Are a Business Opportunity

It’s going to be a busy couple of years for the food industry as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formalizes key parts of its plan to modernize and further secure the U.S. food supply chain. The next milestone for FDA food traceability regulations is just four months away, so let’s take a look at the requirements — and why food companies should embrace them as an opportunity to improve their businesses.

But first, if you’re intrigued by the idea that opportunities are “hiding” in the FDA food traceability regulations, join us for our “Safety, Regulatory Compliance & Beyond: Leveraging Traceability to Optimize the Food & Beverage Supply Chain” webinar on Wednesday, August 10, at 1 p.m. EST. Our experts will break down the “whys” and “hows” of traceability, discuss the real-world applications and value-adds, and take your questions.

Recap of FDA food traceability regulations & upcoming deadlines

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on the table and upcoming deadlines.

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

      • Signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011
      • Aims to ensure the food supply is safe by shifting the focus to preventing contamination rather than responding to it
      • Applies to human food as well as to food for animals, including pets

Proposed Rule (FSMA 204)

      • Establishes additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for people who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods on the Food Traceability List
      • Food Traceability List contains foods with additional traceability recordkeeping requirements (see table below)
      • Stakeholders to establish and maintain records with key data elements (KDEs) associated with different critical tracking events (CTEs)

Key dates

      • Nov. 7, 2022: FDA to finalize and submit the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Proposed Rule to the Federal Register
      • January 2023: Proposed Rule goes into effect
      • Jan. 6, 2025: Deadline for full compliance

The FDA has also launched the New Era of Smarter Food Safety and an accompanying New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, which envision a modern approach to ensuring food safety through digital, tech-enabled traceability. Get more details in our blog here.

FDA food traceability regulations: What to know now and how to seize opportunities

This is really just a preview of our August 10 webinar about leveraging traceability. We’ll touch on a few key points below; sign up for the webinar to take a deep dive.

Just the facts

The FSMA 204 deadlines are set. You’ll have to be fully compliant in about two years, so the time to prepare is now.

The Food Traceability List is a living document. More and more food items are sure to be added over time.

The FDA is committed to modernizing and securing the U.S. food supply chain. Expect the Agency to continue promoting (and regulating) traceability in a digital supply chain. This includes improving recall management.

Where’s the opportunity?

End-to-end traceability makes everything better. With the right solution, you’ll not only be compliant — you’ll make your supply chain faster, leaner, and more cost-effective.

“1-up, 1-down” is useful, but antiquated. Today, 1-up, 1-down traceability is merely a facet of end-to-end traceability (and visibility and transparency) in a digital supply chain. The right solutions transform your supply chain into an ecosystem that optimizes operations and creates opportunity and value beyond the point of sale.

Serialization is the building block of compliance — and added value. Serialization turns every product into a “digital asset” that can be traced in real time from virtually any location, yielding practical benefits to your operations. But these digital assets can accomplish much, much more, including brand protection and consumer engagement.

Traceability enables precise, targeted recall management — which means better outcomes for your brand. We’ve all heard the statistic that the average food recall costs $10 million. With traceability, you can locate specific items quickly, identify where they came from (e.g., grower, warehouse), take clear, decisive action to remove only those items from circulation, and protect consumers and your reputation.

Traceability in a digital supply chain means less clutter — literally. Do you have nightmares about back rooms full of boxes stuffed with paperwork? Traceability turns your nightmare into an operational dream. Get rid of all the paper and gain the power to quickly dial up any document, any time, from any location, including from mobile devices.

Traceability and added value

Traceability is the key to keeping consumers happy and inspired. Consumers are thinking deeply about the things they buy — where they come from and what goes into making them. They also expect to interact with the brands they trust. We wrote way back in October 2020 that supply chain traceability was building a new kind of consumer kingdom; it was true then, it’s true today, and it will be true tomorrow.

The era of digital assets and smart products is here. Products are no longer just products. With serialization and traceability, products are gateways to experiences. They’re beacons to broadcast information. They are conduits for hyper-targeted and hyper-personalized consumer engagement.

Final thoughts

FDA food traceability regulations are center stage in FSMA, the Food Traceability Proposed Rule (FSMA 204), the Food Traceability List, and the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. The deadlines are coming and you should be preparing.

But now you know that savvy companies will see traceability as more than a compliance mandate from the government — they’ll see it as a technology that creates a universe of opportunities for their businesses and brands.

Companies that are thinking only about the mechanics of complying with FDA food traceability regulations will miss these opportunities to be proactive about ensuring food safety and quality, reducing  risks, protecting and building their brands, and leveraging every single product to connect with individual consumers in exciting, meaningful ways.

We don’t want you to miss these opportunities. To get started, sign up for our food traceability webinar to see how traceability works and how it delivers value.

Next, contact us to schedule a short demo of our food and beverage solutions, including our award-winning Traceability System and Mobile Traceability App. In about 15 minutes, our supply chain experts will show you how we create end-to-end traceability in a fully interoperable digital supply chain that’s visible anytime, anywhere.

Last, take a look at our other food traceability materials, some FDA links, and our shortened version of the Food Traceability List.

Our FSMA & Food Traceability Resources

Other FDA Resources

Food Traceability List (see full FDA document here)

FDA Food Traceability List

Antares Vision Group Acquires Packital and Ingg. Vescovini, Strengthening Its Positioning in Food & Beverage Quality Control

Travagliato (Brescia), August 2, 2022. Antares Vision Group, an Italian multinational and a leading provider of track and trace and quality control systems that guarantee the transparency of products and supply chains through integrated data management, today announced that it had acquired 100 percent of Packital SRL and of Ingg. Vescovini SRL through its subsidiary company FT System.

Packital, based in Fidenza (PR), Italy, has since 1989 developed, designed, produced, and distributed inspection and quality control systems such as checkweighers, metal detectors, X-rays, and weight sorters. It specializes in wet and difficult environments, including those in which corrosive products are present. The company is certified as an Inspection Body for checkweighers.

Founded in 1984, Parma, Italy-based Ingg. Vescovini SRL develops, designs, and produces analogue and digital electronic boards, fundamental components for checkweighers, weight dosing systems, inspection systems in the beverage sector, electromedical machines, and control systems in the agricultural and industrial sectors.

“We are continuing along the path toward the technological growth and expansion of our portfolio,” said Emidio Zorzella, chairman and joint-CEO of Antares Vision Group, “keeping with our mission to guarantee the quality, safety, efficiency, and sustainability of products and supply chains.”  

Fabio Forestelli, CEO of FT System and a member of the Antares Vision Group Board, added, “With Packital and Ingg. Vescovini, we will further strengthen our presence in the food and beverage sector by extending our portfolio of inspection and quality control solutions that are complementary to current ones. In this way, we can strengthen our facility with qualified personnel who specialize in inspection technologies, increasing our technical and production capacity as well as our market presence.”

Giacomo Vacca, CEO of Packital, said, “After 30 years of experience, passion, and expertise in food and beverage inspection solutions, we have chosen Antares Vision Group to continue to increase the market value we have already created, thanks to shared values and objectives.”

“The 60 years of experience in our industry are a fundamental value, which looks to the past, but enables us to see the future,” said Ingg. Vescovini CEO Paolo Vescovini. “We are grateful to all of our staff for the contribution they have made thus far and we are sure that joining Antares Vision Group is an important opportunity for us to continue to innovate.”

Strategic rationale

The acquisitions of Packital and Vescovini represent an important strategic opportunity for Antares Vision Group, insofar as they maintain and strengthen its positioning in the food and beverage sector, which started in 2021 with the acquisitions of Pentec and Tecnel, through the subsidiary company FT System. More specifically, they will allow The Group to:

Consolidate its market positioning thanks to:

  • A portfolio of quality control and inspection systems that are unique and unparalleled in the market, in terms of variety and extent of the range
  • The completion of the current range with quality control solutions in difficult environments (dusty, wet, corrosive)
  • Expand the range of services provided, also for the periodic certification of weighing instruments

Increase its market share in the Food & Beverage sector, thanks to:

  • An active customer base (approximately 400), the majority of which are new to The Group
  • Technological coverage in terms of fundamental components such as electronic boards

Strengthen its technological know-how

  • In inspection and quality control, thanks to a highly qualified team for software design and programming, with expertise accrued over the years
  • In electronic boards, by maintaining the know-how (schematics and source files) that Vescovini has developed for FT System over the years; increasing current developments, with a design, production, and assistance team in the food sector; offering customized solutions, able to promote customer loyalty and consolidate customer relations; maintaining technological leadership able to lead innovation and development in this specific field

Increase production capacity

  • Thanks to quality controls and inspections that will increase the existing base for some types
  • Thanks to proprietary electronic boards and relative management software, to meet both market demand and the needs of the Group, guaranteeing a useful reserve to handle supply chain shortages

Cross-technology opportunities as a Group

  • Thanks to the proprietary electronic boards and relative management software, able to support the technological needs of the group’s different product units, by developing innovative applications in current and future projects

Cross-industry opportunities as a Group

  • Thanks to quality and inspection controls, which can be adopted in current and potential business areas

Paolo Vescovini, the current Chairman of Packital and Vescovini, will be bound by a three-year Management agreement to guarantee a smooth handover. Their geographical proximity, know-how and reciprocal respect will contribute to facilitating the integration.

About Antares Vision Group

Antares Vision Group is an outstanding technology partner in digitalization and innovation for enterprises and institutions, guaranteeing the safety of products and people, business competitiveness, and environmental protection. Antares Vision Group is a technological enabler of supply chain transparency and sustainable transition to protect business competitiveness and the uniqueness of each country. It provides a unique and comprehensive ecosystem of technologies to guarantee product quality (inspection systems and equipment) and end-to-end product traceability (from raw materials and production to distribution to the consumer), with integrated data, production and supply chain management, also achieved through the application of artificial intelligence and the use of blockchains.

Antares Vision Group is active in the life sciences sector (pharmaceutical, biomedical devices, and hospitals), in the beverage, food, and cosmetics industries, and has potential in other sectors. The world leader in track and trace systems for pharmaceutical products, it provides major global manufacturers (more than 50 percent of the Top 20 multinationals) and numerous government authorities with solutions to monitor their supply chains and validate product authenticity.

Listed since April 2019 on the Italian Stock Exchange in the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) segment and from May 14, 2021, in the STAR segment of the Mercato Telematico Azionario (MTA) (electronic equity market), Antares Vision Group recorded a turnover of Euro 162 million in 2020, operates in 60 countries, employs approximately 1,000 people, and has a consolidated network of more than 40 international partners. For more information, visit www.antaresvision.com and www.antaresvisiongroup.com.