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3 Benefits of Supply Chain Traceability for Your Business

Imagine for a minute that you get the phone call all companies dread. It’s the “I am dissatisfied with my product” call, direct from a customer. You take the call, help the customer, and move on, right? You’re feel good about solving the problem — and are definitely not thinking about supply chain traceability.

A few days go by, then you’re flooded with more complaints, none of which seem to be related. You scramble to identify the root cause of all your problems, but you don’t know where to look. What should you do?

This is when you should be thinking about supply chain traceability. It is the key to having total insight into how your products get made, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. By employing supply chain traceability, you can:

  • Assure your brand and customers are protected
  • Maintain regulatory compliance
  • Pinpoint common problems, such as counterfeits and diversion

Let’s take a deeper look into each of these benefits.

1. Supply chain traceability for brand protection and customer satisfaction

Customers grade a brand on both the quality of its products and how it responds when an issue arises. Brands build loyalty with their customers by being transparent and demonstrating consistent product and service quality. Brands lose customers by failing to respond to complaints and recalls.

Response to complaints and recalls

Supply chain traceability is helpful when investigating a customer complaint. It is also essential when assessing a potential recall or managing an actual recall.

All the products you make and sell must have identification that traces back their source. Manufacturers and retailers can follow a problematic unit backward through its life cycle. Information collected through traceability includes:

  • Date and time of manufacturing
  • Equipment used for manufacturing and packaging
  • Personnel involved in manufacturing and packaging
  • Raw materials and components
  • Physical locations of inventory throughout its life

In a best-case scenario, the complaint is an isolated incident that’s easy to fix. But if the complaint means there’s been a breakdown somewhere or a product has been compromised, a recall may be triggered.

Recalls happen for any number of reasons. For example, you might discover a material that is out of specification. Once identified, it is necessary to trace all usage of that material. Another example is contamination, especially in the food supply chain.

A recall of any size can have a significant impact on your business. Having a supply chain traceability system will speed recalls, improve cooperation with regulators and other authorities, enable better information-sharing with your customers, and reduce damage to your brand reputation. Faster batch recalls are possible only when there is a robust supply chain traceability system.

Transparency about sourcing

A study conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum found that “70 percent of consumers are most interested in transparency about products.” Customers want to know where the materials used in their products came from and how they were sourced.

Some companies are publishing reports to make their supply chains and operations more transparent — and to make their brand more appealing to consumers. In addition to how they source materials, they’re sharing information about things such as:

  • Origins and purposes of raw ingredients
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Safe handling practices along the supply chain
  • The brand’s mission and values

This type of “transparency marketing” is effective in the food and consumer packaged goods industries, as it entices consumers to make a purchase because they’re getting the product information they demand.

A 2016 study by Label Insight indicated that 94 percent of consumers are not only likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency but are willing to pay more for products that meet such standards. This has powerful implications for brands; it shows that transparency made possible with supply chain traceability inspires product and brand loyalty.

2. Supply chain traceability is key to compliance

Being able to track material movement and consumption is critical for regulatory compliance.

The ISO 9000 Standards Series is the basis for most industries’ standards and provides expectations to help companies structure their quality management systems. Within these standards, traceability is defined as “The ability to trace the history, application, use and location of an item or its characteristics through recorded identification data.”

To meet this standard, it’s critical to be able to identify individual product units. Also, you must collect information about subcomponents. This information will allow for the tracing of parts of products throughout your supply chain.

Serialization makes supply chain track and trace easier

Serialization is the process of assigning unique identifiers to outbound and inbound materials. This makes the parts of products easier to track and trace throughout your processes. Utilizing software such as our Serialization Processing solution will save you time and effort in managing your supply chain.

Collecting supply chain data on your materials and finished products can also help to identify problems before they become an issue. This empowers you to be proactive and assess what works well (or what does not work well) throughout your entire supply chain process, which allows you to standardize your work processes and cut out waste.

Prove your product claims

Marketing claims must be substantiated, not only to consumers but also to regulatory agencies. Claims about sustainable sourcing, organic certifications, and other attributes can be demonstrated with supply chain traceability. Safe and compliant handling of products is also best demonstrated with traceability. Many retailers and manufacturers have routine audits to assure that they have processes to trace a product’s life cycle. In some industries, the results of these audits are available as public information.

Regulations evolve over time

Regulatory requirements for the documentation of traceability are constantly evolving. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the “Proposed Rule for Food Traceability,” which called for additional traceability records for certain foods. The FDA is encouraging the voluntary adoption of these new practices for all food products. These new requirements will affect all who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods.

We’ve written extensively about the FDA’s push for traceability in modern food supply chain. For example, check out “Food Traceability Regulations in the United States: A Timeline.”

rfxcel is prepared to help you comply with all current and future requirements in any industry, including food and beverage, life sciences/pharmaceuticals, government, and consumer goods. We track industry regulations and guidance documents for upcoming and proposed legislation. We have software solutions that take the guesswork out of compliance no matter where you do business.

3. Combat counterfeits and diversion/theft by identifying supply chain weak spots

One of the worst things that can happen to any business is having their products counterfeited or stolen.

Counterfeits not only result in a direct loss of sales, but your customers might lose faith in your brand. If a person winds up with an inferior counterfeit product with your name and logo on it, there’s a good chance they will be dissatisfied with your brand and take their business somewhere else. And if your products are diverted or stolen, then you’re losing money and might have a much larger supply chain problem on your hands.

Supply chain traceability is like a forensic tool to help fight counterfeits and diversion — and host of other problems. Here’s how it works:

  • You know the origin of your ingredients. You can verify that all ingredients or components are legitimate. You can see the history of any ingredient, including its origin and when it was combined with other ingredients to make a finished product.
  • You can trace a product’s every move. Traceability means you can see everywhere a product has been before, during, and after it was harvested or manufactured. You can see every case or box, every pallet, every delivery vehicle, every stop along the supply chain (e.g., a warehouse, a retail store, a pharmacy or hospital). Even after a product has been unloaded from the delivery vehicle and taken out of cases or boxes, you see where individual units have been right up to the time the consumer takes possession (check-out at the cash register, dispensation at a clinic, etc.).
  • You can pinpoint where a product might have been harmed or compromised. Traceability data will show if a shipment strayed from its prescribed route, which could indicate theft or other mischief that could harm your bottom line and brand. Serialization, compliance, real-time monitoring, and other supply chain traceability solutions create a provenance that can demonstrate the legitimacy and purity of every product.

Final thoughts

We hope you have a better idea of how supply chain traceability can help your brand and business. Traceability is a crucial aspect of managing your business operations.

Are you ready to get started? Setting up your own supply chain traceability system might seem daunting, but rfxcel is here to help. We have easy-to-use, scalable solutions for all of your track and trace needs, no matter what industry you’re in.

Contact us today if you would like to see a short demo of how we can help you to build an effective traceability system. Together, we can protect your brand, ensure regulatory compliance, and fight counterfeits and theft.

Supply Chain Traceability Systems Make Your Business Better

One of the best ways to get more people to buy your products is to inspire consumer confidence. And one of the best ways to increase consumer confidence is to insist on airtight food safety protocols, which absolutely should include supply chain traceability systems.

Are there some areas where your food safety can improve? It’s always a good idea to periodically reflect on what you and your team are doing. This will allow you to improve on weak spots in your food supply chain. Supply chain traceability systems are a huge help.

Most important, the ability to trace everything in your supply chain ensures you are delivering safe food to your customers — and building consumer confidence. It also helps ensure compliance with regulations. So, if you don’t have traceability in your supply chain, you should consider implementing a system as soon as possible.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits supply chain traceability systems can bring to your business.

What are supply chain traceability systems?

Supply chain traceability systems are a powerful tool for any industry. They give you the ability to know where your ingredients and finished products have been and where they’re going as they move through your supply chain, through the “life cycle” of your business. They are particularly helpful with maintaining product safety and minimizing and proactively managing issues that could harm your business, such as a recall.

Advantages of supply chain traceability

There’s no doubt supply chain traceability systems will save your company time, money, and effort. But what specifically can they do for you? Let’s look further into the benefits of implementing a food safety program with supply chain traceability.

Effective recall management

Supply chain traceability is a key part of recall management. The food industry is one of the most vulnerable to recalls. A recent example is Tyson Chicken. On July 3, 2021, the food giant had to recall almost 9 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken in the United States. Thanks to supply chain traceability, however, Tyson could work quickly and effectively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pinpointing when the products were made and what labels were on the packaging, notifying consumers, and mitigating further troubles.

Needless to say, a recall of any size can hurt profitability and brand reputation. But supply chain traceability systems help manage damage. As we’ve discussed before, having the proper systems in place for effective recall management is paramount for protecting your business’ profitability and your brand reputation.

Regulatory compliance

Another advantage of implementing supply chain traceability systems is meeting regulatory requirements. The FDA keeps a watchful eye over food supply chain processes in the United States. And, with much of our food traveling far and wide before it reaches our plates, those processes require many moving parts. Being aware of where your food has been, where it is now, where it’s going, who is handling it, and how long it’s been in transit are all helpful metrics to keep your operation in compliance with the FDA and other regulatory agencies.

The FDA is pushing hard for more traceability standards, and consumers are more aware of where their food is coming from and demanding more information about what they eat. This is yet another reason why traceability is so important today.

Maximized efficiency

Being able to trace (and track) your products as they move through your supply chain also allows you to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. In other words, end-to-end traceability maximizes operational efficiency. It will enable you to see which processes are working well and which ones aren’t.

Supply chain traceability systems also help you cut costs. If you have rich data that quantifies that a particular process (or trading partner) is inefficient, you can take steps to improve it or remove it from your supply chain process.

Consumer engagement

Believe it or not, traceability will also help your sales. Customers love stories — and they’re demanding more information about the products they buy. Smart companies will use their supply chain traceability systems as part of their marketing, connecting with consumers by telling their story and sharing information about their products.

You see this all of the time in the food industry. In commercials, companies highlight how far their products have traveled and how much care goes into making, packaging, and shipping them. This kind of advertising paints a picture of the journey the products take to arrive in a customer’s home and emphasizes the qualities people want (e.g., salmon from Alaska or peaches from Georgia). Being able to “play up” the source and the journey will make your food products more appealing to shoppers.

Communicating with stakeholders

You always need to consider input from stakeholders. Supply chain traceability is an effective way to keep them happy. Making stakeholders aware of this information is known as supply chain transparency.

Supply chain transparency is an important part of your business. While food safety and quality are important, you also need to keep your trading partners in the loop. Any effective supply chain transparency plan has three main components.

The first component is the “what” of your supply chain traceability. What information are you going to share with your stakeholders? You’re also going to want to determine what format you’re going to use to display the information.

The next step is to decide the “who. Who needs to see this information? Several different groups might need it, such as internal stakeholders, vendors, suppliers, clients, and consumers. You’ll also want to consider why they need to have it.

Last, you’ll want to consider the “when. When are your people going to get this information? And how often?

You’ll also need to decide how often to update your information. Today, the trend is toward real-time updates. This is the ideal scenario, but it can be a challenge to attain. Supply chains involve a lot of moving parts and have many different nodes or tiers. Providing real-time updates in this complex framework requires efficient, streamlined operations utilizing supply chain traceability systems.

Supply chain mapping

Supply chain mapping — the process of mapping every tier of your supply chain with easy-to-follow imagery — is an effective way to keep all your stakeholders happy. A supply chain map doesn’t show every person involved in the process; instead, it shows all of the players within each tier of the supply chain.

One of the benefits of supply chain mapping is that it presents an opportunity for risk assessment. Seeing your supply chain clearly mapped out allows your management team to decide which areas need to be carefully monitored. You can also analyze your supply chain with a “bird’s-eye view” and decide if you need to make adjustments for greater efficiency.

Safer, healthier food

Today, grocery stores are full of food that’s touted as being locally sourced, sustainably caught, and so on. How can companies make and prove these claims? With end-to-end supply chain traceability data. Making these types of claims requires companies to make sure they are tracking the right metrics to support them. Companies also need to leverage the correct technology to support these initiatives.

Examples of how supply chain traceability systems work

How do companies achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability? Keeping track of your products and all the important metrics requires modern technology.

One of the ways companies are doing this is by putting QR codes and 2D Data Matrix codes on their packaging. These codes contain important information and can be scanned as products move through the supply chain. This allows vendors, suppliers, and people responsible for transport to “check the food in” at various points throughout the process and add important data, including critical tracking events (CTEs) and key data elements (KDEs).

Leveraging this technology is a critical aspect of today’s supply chain traceability systems. It helps companies keep track of where their products are at all times, throughout all nodes of the supply chain. For more information about it all works, download our new white paper, Traceability in the Food Supply Chain.

A quick word about blockchain

As technology moves forward, supply chain traceability systems also continue to evolve. One of the newest technologies with traceability applications is blockchain.

Most people probably associate blockchain with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. One of the reasons Bitcoin is so valuable is because it can be traced across the internet via the blockchain. Investors and computer programmers can map each Bitcoin to its proper place on a global digital ledger.

This and other characteristics give blockchain tremendous functionality in a wide array of industries. For food in particular, blockchain can help companies achieve a “locked down” supply chain, providing indisputable, verified data and a level of security not possible with other technologies.

What do you think tracking food products in the same manner as cryptocurrency would do for supply chain traceability systems? It’s still in the early stages, but blockchain could revolutionize traceability. It’s a complicated subject, so we encourage you to download our white paper, Blockchain-Based Supply Chain Traceability.

Final thoughts

Supply chain traceability systems are an essential part of any business. But they’re especially important in the food industry. The safety and quality of your product is the most important part of your business. Consumers’ health depends on it. Your brand reputation depends on it. Your bottom line depends on it.

rfxcel can help. We have the software solutions you need for your business — for supply chain traceability, regulatory compliance, serialization, monitoring, and even vaccine track and trace.

Contact us today if you have any questions about supply chain traceability systems or would like to see a short demo of how our solutions can help you build your business, no matter what your business is.

 

Saudi Arabia’s Traceability Requirements for Imported Food

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia imports about 80 percent of its food, according to a June 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To prevent food-borne illnesses and increase visibility in the food supply chain, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) strictly regulates imported food.

Let’s take a look at what food companies must do to comply with SFDA regulations when shipping their products to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s requirements for imported food

The Department of Agriculture report lists the following import procedures. First, companies must create an “E-account” with the SFDA and register their food products. They must have a Commercial Register, which includes imports and distribution of food
products. They must also submit an original invoice certified by a chamber of commerce in their home country. Last, depending on the product being imported, the may be asked to present some of following certificates:

  • Certificate of origin (copy)
  • Halal certificate (original). A Halal certificate is proof that the product meets Islamic Law requirements and is acceptable for consumption in Muslim-majority countries, as well as Western countries with a large Islamic population.
  • Certificate of slaughtering for meat and poultry (original)

Other requirements for imported food items

The GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) was established in 2001 and began operations in 2004. It is exactly what its name says: a standards organization for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members. GSO requirements for Saudi Arabia’s imported foods are listed below. Many of these regulations also apply to domestic food items.

GCC Standards Organization (GSO) 9/2007

Since the end of 2010, Saudi Arabia has enforced the Gulf Standard 9/2007. Per this standard, all prepackaged and domestic foods must at minimum contain the following data points:

  • Product name
  • Packer’s name
  • Country of origin or manufacture
  • Listing of ingredients
  • Instructions for use (if applicable)
  • Shelf life

GSO 2233/2018 requirements for nutritional labeling

In 2013, the SFDA began enforcing GSO 2233/2012, a regulation from the GSO that requires labels to clearly disclose a product’s nutritional information (e.g., calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that may affect its nutritional value and consumers’ health or safety. The labels must list the ingredients, and nutritional information must be presented in a standardized, easy-to-read table so customers can readily understand what they’re purchasing. The labeling is also designed to increase people’s nutritional education to improve overall health. Some products are exempt from labeling, including bottled water, fresh fruits and vegetables, one-nutrient foods such as rice and coffee, and foods for special dietary uses, including infant formula.

Final thoughts

Keeping up with food traceability and regulations in Saudi Arabia — or any market — is a challenge. But rfxcel can help. Our solutions for food and beverage cover everything from farm to fork, from compliance to environmental monitoringContact us to book a demo of our award-winning rfxcel Traceability System and see how this  customizable, scalable platform will simplify and accelerate all of your supply chain operations.

Food Traceability Data: Not Just for Compliance Anymore

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to evolve its traceability and modernization initiatives across the U.S. food supply chain, the need for more accurate food traceability data is more important than ever.

Foundationally, the FDA’s initiatives require companies to have digital traceability systems in place that facilitate greater food safety. But food traceability data means more than ensuring you’re complying with regulations: It offers significant business value. Let’s take a look.

FDA’s food traceability initiatives: a refresher

In 2011, Congress enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed in the United States. The law transforms the nation’s food safety system from an after-the-fact response to foodborne illness to a proactive posture aimed at prevention.

To address the rapid and effective tracking and tracing outlined in FSMA, the FDA in April 2019 launched the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, a tech-enabled approach to food traceability to ensure food safety, and the New Era of Smarter Safety Blueprint (July 2020), which outlined the Agency’s vision for how to get there and included the Food Traceability Proposed Rule, which defines specific traceability recordkeeping requirements for foods on its Food Traceability List.

Food traceability data delivers benefits beyond mere compliance

Although food traceability data serves as the cornerstone of effective recall management and outbreak prevention as required by the FDA, it means much more than compliance. Here are three ways food traceability data can drive business value to support sustainable growth.

Create operational efficiencies

Food traceability data yields complete, real-time visibility into operations across every node in the supply chain. This empowers food companies to take immediate action, solve problems, coordinate with partners and regulators, and keep things moving.

For example, by tracking a product’s ingredients from harvest through production through the last mile to delivery, you can quickly trace raw materials backward and forward, pinpoint supply chain weaknesses or trouble spots, and strengthen your recall program and minimize the impact of recalls. And with a traceability system that allows you to monitor products anywhere in transit, you can collect data on environmental conditions, track the location of all your deliveries, and set precise parameters for alerts.

This food traceability data allows you to proactively protect your shipments, safeguard their environmental integrity, track their position on land, sea, and air, and intervene immediately should something seem awry, such as a spike in temperature or a route diversion. Add critical tracking events (CTEs) and other information (e.g., quality inspections) to the process and you’ve got an indelible product provenance from farm to table.

Build consumer engagement and trust

These days, consumers are more attuned than ever to family health and finances. They want to know more about what they’re eating, such as ingredients, how food is raised or grown, and the safety and environmental practices used to produce it. They want to feel good about what they eat and where they are spending their money. By supplying information that meets this demand, you build trust and loyalty and build a community of customers who will advocate for your products.

The simple truth is that food traceability data creates tremendous opportunities to communicate with consumers and nurture more committed relationships. You can back your claims and prove your product is what you say it is.

Protect your brand

This dovetails with consumer engagement and trust. With modernized, secure, and compliant food traceability protocols, you can better collaborate with partners and authorities if there’s a recall. In this scenario, you’re not only protecting consumers from a health hazard — you’re safeguarding your brand from bad publicity. And with a transparent approach to engaging with customers about the foods they consume, you create a strong brand image that conveys trust, credibility, and reliability. You can even use your food traceability data as a core differentiator in your value proposition messaging.

Final thoughts

Food traceability data has always been important, but the FDA has clearly put it center stage with FSMA, the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, the Food Traceability Proposed Rule, and the Food Traceability List.

Do not expect this to change.

rfxcel believes industry leaders will see traceability as an investment in their businesses and brands, not a compliance mandate from the government. If fact, savvy companies will know the FDA’s initiatives are an opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of the U.S. food supply chain. Keep an eye out this summer for more from rfxcel about how you can tap into the FDA’s initiatives to help lead the transformation of the U.S. food supply chain. As we said above, this is a moment of opportunity for the food industry. Don’t miss the boat.

In the meantime, take a look at our solutions for food and beverage:

Contact us today for more information and to schedule a short demo of our food traceability solutions. Get started now and take advantage of all the opportunities food traceability data can create for you.

Food Traceability Regulations in the United States: A Timeline

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is orchestrating the construction of a more robust, technology-driven approach to food traceability and safety. And it’s happening as the food industry is undergoing major change, including scores of new foods being introduced to the market, rising consumer demand for more information about the food they buy, the development of more sophisticated production and delivery methods, and a growing push for digitization of the supply chain.

As regulations in the United States continue to evolve, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers need to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments. Today, we’ll help with a quick rundown of what’s happened with food traceability over the last year.

Food traceability regulations in the United States: 2020-present

On September 23, 2020, the FDA published “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” on its Food Traceability List. Referred to as the “Food Traceability Proposed Rule,” it’s part of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and aims to standardize the data elements and information required to rapidly and accurately identify foods that may be causing illness. It defines additional recordkeeping requirements for businesses that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods on the FDA’s Food Traceability List, which must establish and maintain records containing key data elements (KDEs) associated with specific critical tracking events (CTEs).

In January 2021, the FDA made clarifying modifications to the Food Traceability List and published a detailed FAQ that answered commonly asked questions that emerged following the announcement of the Proposed Rule. In February 2021, the comments period for the modifications closed. The FDA has until November 2022 to finalize it.

More about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint

These initiatives are part of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Announced in April 2019, it envisions a modern approach to ensuring food safety through digital, tech-enabled traceability.

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, announced in July 2020, outlines the FDA’s methodology for achieving its traceability and safety goals. It’s based on the following four pillars, which leverage a range of technologies, analytics, business models, modernization, and values as its building blocks:

1. Tech-enabled food traceability

A supply chain that includes paper-based recordkeeping and yields insufficient data makes it difficult to track and trace foods rapidly. Fast, accurate food traceability is essential to safeguarding consumers’ health — and your brand reputation and bottom line.

For example, modernized food traceability that leverages the latest technologies and integrates expanding data streams empowers supply chain stakeholders to identify an outbreak and trace a contaminated food product’s origin within minutes — or even seconds — and be proactive about getting the product off of shelves.

2. Smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response

In addition to better food traceability, the FDA wants to ensure the root cause of an outbreak or contamination can be easily identified to support a prevention-based approach. To do this, stakeholders need to incorporate new knowledge while continuously assessing how they can make processes and communications more effective and efficient. As more data becomes available, the use of predictive analytics tools becomes increasingly important to predict when a significant food event may occur. With this information, manufacturers can prevent a contaminated food products from entering the supply chain or target efforts to remove a potentially contaminated product from the market.

3. New business models and retail modernization

As the industry continues to find new ways to produce and distribute food, the FDA is seeking to explore new approaches in ensuring food traceability and safety. This includes:

  • Educating supply chain actors on the importance of food safety issues
  • Adapting FDA oversight to ensure the safety of novel ingredients, new foods, and new food production methods
  • Advancing the safety of foods sold in traditional retail establishments
4. Food safety culture

The FDA wants to encourage an environment of support for a stronger food safety culture on farms, in food facilities, and in homes. If the food industry does not commit to embracing food traceability and safety, real improvements will be difficult to achieve.

Final thoughts

We can be certain of two things when it comes to food traceability regulations in the United States: they’re going to keep evolving and they’re not going away. The good news is advancements in technology are making it profoundly easier — and even more affordable — to ensure food traceability across the entire supply chain. Yes, the FDA’s proposed requirements technically apply only to items on the Food Traceability List, but the Agency is encouraging voluntary adoption of these practices industry-wide. Savvy food companies will see this as an opportunity to get involved early and be part of the process, helping to set the industry’s regulatory course while going a long way to secure their own business.

rfxcel can help you comply with U.S. food traceability regulations today, tomorrow — always. From raw ingredients to finished goods, our rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) offers end-to-end food supply chain traceability and visibility. Our rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) is a real-time traceability and supply chain visibility solution that helps you remotely monitor products in transit And our MobileTraceability app brings the power of rTS to every node of your operations, including places that have traditionally been “blind spots.” Contact us today to arrange a demo.

Russia Chestny ZNAK Bottled Drinking Water Pilot Ending Soon

A year ago today — April 1, 2020 — Russia started its Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot. Chestny ZNAK is Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System, which is transforming how the country runs and regulates the supply chain for everything from pharmaceuticals to fur. It’s managed by the Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT).

If all goes as planned, the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot will wrap up on June 1. Let’s take a quick look at the pilot and what we can expect going forward.

The Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot

As we said, the pilot (or “experiment,” as these projects are called in Russia) began on April 1, 2020, and is scheduled to end just two months from now, on June 1. The bottled drinking water category includes mineral and carbonated waters, waters without sweeteners or other flavoring, and non-carbonated water. The table below shows the Eurasian Economic Union Combined Nomenclature of Foreign Economic Activity (TN VED) code for the products that must be labeled, as provided by Chestny ZNAK.

 

BOTTLED DRINKING WATER

Pilot: April 1, 2020–June 1, 2021

TN VED CodeDescription
2201Beverages and spirits and vinegar: waters, including natural or artificial mineral waters and aerated (i.e., carbonated) waters, not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter nor flavored; ice and snow

 

Like pilots for other industries, the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot tests end-to-end tracking and tracing of marked goods from manufacturing sites or import/customs locations to final sale to consumers. It’s also designed to determine the best approaches for marking and tracing products, including testing methods of applying codes to different types of packaging, such as PET bottles and bottles with irregular shapes.

Chestny ZNAK, which is now in its fourth year of operation, generally requires products to be labeled with a 2D DataMatrix code containing four data points: a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), a serial number, a verification key, and a verification code (i.e., crypto code).

The DataMatrix codes being used in the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot must contain three data points: a 14-digit GTIN, a 13-character serial number, and a 4-character verification code. An optional fourth data point can include information such as the minimum retail price and expiration date. Product packaging is required to have a blank field up to 15×15mm to accommodate the code.

The pilot’s goals include the following:

  • Supply chain actors order DataMatrix codes and apply them to products.
  • All labeling information is transferred electronically to Chestny ZNAK.
  • Products in shipping packages are aggregated; codes for each unit in the aggregation are also aggregated.
  • Marked products enter circulation.
  • Products are tracked and traced in the supply chain, and stakeholders exchange Universal Transfer Documents (UTDs) to record transfer of codes.
  • Consumers purchase goods, which are withdrawn from circulation at checkout via point-of-sale cash registers and scanning devices.

Final thoughts

The CRPT has not announced when mandatory marking of bottled water products will begin. If the pilot ends on schedule, there will likely be a final report and review period, so it could be late 2021 or even early 2022 before you’ll have to comply.

Regardless, the time to think about compliance is now. If you want more details about the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot — or any of the regulated industries — start by downloading our white papers. We’ve updated all of our Russia white papers for 2021 and included even more details about what you need to know and do to be compliant.

You should also contact us. We’ve been prepared for Russia’s regulations since 2018. Here a just a few of the reasons why we’re the leader in Chestny ZNAK compliance:

  • We are an official software and integration partner of the CRPT.
  • We’re accredited as an IT company by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media.
  • We are one of only a few providers with in-country implementations; clients include global consumer goods and pharma companies.
  • Our powerful software ensures companies in any industry will remain compliant while mastering their supply chains with end-to-end traceability and rich, actionable data mined right down to the unit level.

We’ll be posting more about what to expect with Chestny ZNAK requirements in 2021. There’s definitely a lot going on — including pilots for biologically active food additives and beer getting under way now — so check back often.

Food Traceability Gets Precise: The State of the Art

In recent years, the food industry has been under increasing pressure to trace products from farm to table. When COVID came onto the scene, the need for food traceability only intensified, as consumers wanted assurance from retailers and their supply chain partners that they could rely on the safety of their food.

Food traceability, however, is only as good as the degree to which it is executed up and down the supply chain. In order to improve supply chain management, facilitate feedback for food quality and safety, and differentiate your food product from your competitors’, you need to get precise in your traceability efforts.

Precision food traceability

Precision food traceability refers to the in-depth tracing of supply chain data and critical tracking events (CTEs) backward (to the source of the product) and forward (everywhere a food product has been used) to facilitate the quick and effective review of every action taken related to a product at each stage. With the ability to pinpoint a particular food product’s movement and characteristics, precision traceability not only offers detailed information about a product’s freshness, nutritional values, and logistics, it also supports proactive, informed decision-making should a food safety event occur.

Serialization is an essential tool in a precision food traceability system. The process of creating a unique code for each product, serialization delivers granular data about the food product to provide significantly more end-to-end visibility. With the ability to track the product at every stage, item-level traceability makes it easy to capture key data elements (KDEs), which could be used to trigger an investigation and reduce traceback time in the event of a food safety issue.

For example, let’s say you want to track a harvest operator’s location beyond the primary farmer and farm. Serialization gives you access to data down to the person who picked a vegetable, and from which row, ranch, or plot. For meat products, you can quickly trace back to not just the exact animal, but also to its pen location, feed, and even medicines.

With the ability to track outcomes (e.g., quality inspections and safety test results) and associate them to the product beyond the original facility, you can look back at any event in a product’s lifecycle even after it’s been shipped from the original facility. Precision food traceability makes it possible to track customer feedback and connect it to supply chain data points to deliver a complete picture of the product’s safety and performance. You can also evaluate how you’re doing on a sustainability front by tracking post-consumer activity, such as recycling and waste.

Specific uses for precision food traceability

On its journey from farm to table, a food product may be exposed to disease-causing organisms and food safety hazards. As the volume of international trade expands, so does the potential for transmission of pathogens or chemical contamination.

We all know problems can arise anywhere in the supply chain. Containing ingredients — perhaps from all over the world — and processed in different facilities and handled by wholesalers, retailers, and transportation companies, a food item is handled by many actors before ending up on the consumer’s plate. A precision food traceability system is paramount to ensuring food safety and minimizing the impact should an event arise.

Precision food traceability makes it easy to investigate food safety issues, identify the source of contamination, assess the scope of impact, and resolve the problem quickly. With the ability to trace back to the health of the animal, feed production, rearing, transportation, and more, you can quickly identify the source of infection or prohibited additives and take preventive and control measures to avoid the introduction of the contaminant.

Beyond safety, precision traceability also supports profitability. With detailed food traceability data, you can intelligently evaluate your operations, optimize efficiencies, analyze yield, and even apply consumer feedback to measure return on production investment. Precision traceability can also reduce food waste by tracking and recording data through every stage of the supply chain.

Final thoughts

Maintaining food safety is critical to your overall success and, more important, consumer health. The better and more precise your tracing system, the better equipped you will be to isolate the source of an issue and address quality control problems, quickly and efficiently. By minimizing the production and distribution of substandard and perhaps even illegal products, you reduce the risk of recalls, negative publicity, and liability, and have a “firewall” to protect your brand in the process.

Keeping tabs on every event related to your food supply can seem daunting but rfxcel can help. Offering the most complete and flexible raw materials and finished goods traceability solution in the food and beverage industry, we can help optimize your supply chain operations, meet compliance requirements, track products, and increase business value.

Meat Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: Getting to Know Your Protein

Today’s consumers demand transparency, particularly when it comes to the meat they consume. They want more information about how and where the livestock was raised and processed — not just from a nutritional standpoint, but also with regard to food safety practices, animal care practices, environmental impact, and worker safety. Put simply, they want meat traceability.

Consumers are making an emotional connection to the foods they buy and consume; they want to feel good about where their money is going and what they are putting into their bodies. While this trend has been growing over the past several years, it has gained significant traction recently. Add the pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got an even greater demand for transparency amid an environment driven by heightened health and financial concerns.

The supply chain saw significant disruption during the pandemic, as high infection rates in processing plants led to a marked curtail in operations in pork, beef, and poultry plants—and in some cases, plant closures. In fact, roughly 65 percent of meat processing plants experienced outbreaks and 20 percent were forced to temporarily suspend operations, which, in a consolidated meat industry, had a ripple effect across the country. As the outbreaks played out publicly, consumers grew even warier of the origins of their meats.

Adding more complexity to the issue, bad weather over the past year meant smaller corn and soybean harvests, making it harder and more expensive for cattle, hog, and poultry farmers to feed their herds. The last time the industry saw such high grain prices was during the 2012 U.S. drought.

As meat supplies diminished, consumer demand grew, with more people stuck inside and forced to cook and eat at home. The result: price inflation at the grocery stores, making it more expensive for consumers to feed their families. As they pay more for the foods that nourish their families and read headlines about the pandemic’s effects on the food supply chain, their demand for transparency has only become greater.

Meat traceability is more essential than ever

As we usher in a new era in food safety, meat traceability is no longer a “nice-to-have” — it’s essential. With increasing consumer demand for more information about where their protein is coming from, clear documentation from the farm to the end product is a must.

The Global Food Traceability Center defines traceability as the “ability to access any or all information relating to a food under consideration, throughout its entire life cycle, by means of recorded identifications.” This goes beyond the information itself; it’s about linking the information throughout the supply chain and ensuring coordinated processes and end-to-end meat traceability.

The good news is that tech-enabled meat traceability doesn’t have to be complicated, and its benefits are vast and powerful. From increased meat quality, improved food safety, and fewer product recalls to better inventory tracking and superior customer service, traceability delivers a range of benefits that go far beyond simply responding to consumers’ demand for information. With visibility across the entire supply chain, manufacturers can document and link the production, processing, and distribution chain of their protein products, which results in greater organizational efficiencies, reduced market and operational risks, a stronger competitive advantage, and a better brand image.

Final thoughts

While challenges continue to emerge amid a rapidly evolving global landscape, brands have an opportunity to tell a story that evokes a positive emotion and inspires a purchase. Consumers want to know that their meats were produced ethically and safely, and, of course, pose no risk to themselves or their families. As more and more people scan labels and packages for information about where their food came from and how it was made, transparency will play an increasingly crucial role in a meat producer’s brand image. It really comes down to trust: If consumers don’t trust your brand, they’ll be more than happy to buy another company’s product. Meat traceability satiates a consumer’s need for information, which builds trust with your brand.

From farm to table, rfxcel’s food supply chain solutions have you covered. Our award-winning Traceability System (rTS) is the basis of a modernized, digital supply chain with fully customizable and scalable solutions that yield complete end-to-end meat traceability. It is the foundation of a digital supply chain and a successful food recall management system that operates with surgical precision.

Offering the most complete and flexible raw materials and meat traceability solution for food and beverage, we’ll help you to optimize your supply chain operations while catering to the consumers’ increasing demand for information about the meats they consume.

New Russian Serialization Pilot for Biologically Active Food Additives

A new Russian serialization pilot for biologically active food additives was announced last month. It’s scheduled to run from April 1 of this year to March 1, 2022.

The government has not said much beyond about the pilot. It has revealed a lot more about the Russian serialization pilot for beer and beer-based drinks, which it announced last October. Read our blog post about that to get all the details.

Let’s take a look at what we do know about the Russian serialization pilot for biologically active food additives. After that, we’ll give you a sneak peek at what we’re doing to make sure stakeholders in every industry regulated by Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System, known as Chestny ZNAK, know exactly what to do to comply with the strict requirements.

Russian serialization pilot for biologically active food additives

As we said above, the Russian government hasn’t said much about the new pilot, which was formalized through a draft decree entitled “On Conducting an Experiment on the Labeling of Biologically Active Food Additives by Means of Identification in the Territory of the Russian Federation.”

Chestny ZNAK has shared a list of what products will be labeled and their corresponding Eurasian Economic Union Combined Nomenclature of Foreign Economic Activity (TN VED) codes. It’s also been reported that the Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT), which operates Chestny ZNAK, will provide equipment to pilot participants.

Here are the products that will be included in the Russian serialization pilot for for biologically active food additives. It’s a long list. Be sure to scroll down to our “Final Thoughts” to read about our plans for Russian supply chain compliance!

BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE FOOD ADDITIVES

Pilot Dates: April 1, 2021–March 1, 2022

TN VED CodeDescription
1210 20 9000Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits; miscellaneous grains, seeds, and fruit; industrial or medicinal plants; straw and fodder
1212 21 000 0Locust beans, seaweeds, and other algae, sugar beet and sugar cane, fresh, chilled, frozen or dried, whether or not ground; fruit stones and kernels and other vegetable products (including unroasted)
1504 10 1000Fish liver oils and their fractions with Vitamin A content not exceeding 2500 iu/g
1504 20 900 0Other fish fats, oils, and their fractions, other than fish liver oils, other than solid fractions
1516 10 900 0Other animal fats and oils and their fractions
1517 90 990 0Other edible mixtures or preparations of animal or vegetable fats or oils or fractions of different fats or oils of this chapter, other than edible fats or oils
1702 90 950 0Other, including invert sugar and other sugar and sugar syrup blends containing in the dry state 50% by weight of fructose
1704 90 550 0Throat and cough lozenges not containing cocoa
1806 31 0000Other product containing cocoa, in blocks, slabs, or bars, filled
1806 32 100 0Cocoa and cocoa preparations (other preparations containing cocoa, not filled, but with added cereal grains, fruits, or nuts in blocks, slabs, or bars)
1806 32 900 0Other preparations containing cocoa, but not filled, in blocks, slabs, or bars
1806 90 700 0Preparations containing cocoa and intended for manufacture (preparation) of drinks
1806 90 900 0Other preparations containing cocoa
2101 12 920 1Preparations with a basis of extracts, essences, or concentrates of coffee
2106 10 800 0Other protein concentrates and textured protein substances
2106 90 590 0Other sugar syrups with flavoring or coloring additives
2106 90 920 0Other food preparations not containing butter fat, sucrose, isoglucose (i.e., high-fructose corn syrup), glucose, and starch, or containing less than 1. 5% by weight of butter fat, 5% by weight of sucrose or isoglucose, 5% by weight
2106 90 980 3Mixtures of vitamins and minerals for use as a balanced dietary supplement
2106 90 980 9Other food preparations not elsewhere specified or included
2106 90 9801Sugar- (sucrose) free chewing gum and/or with a sugar substitute product
2202 90 100 9“Others” under Code 2202: “Beverages and spirits and vinegar”
2202 99 190 0Other beverages not containing preparations of headings 0401 to 0404 or fat obtained from preparations of headings 0401 to 0404:

  • 0401: Milk and cream, not concentrated nor containing added sugar or other sweetening matter
  • 0402: Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter
  • 0403: Buttermilk, curdled milk and cream, yogurt, kephir (a.k.a. kefir), and other fermented or acidified milk and cream, whether or not concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavored or…
  • 0404: Whey, whether or not concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter; products consisting of natural milk constituents, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening…
2936 21 000 0Vitamins A and their derivatives
3002 90 500 0Cultures of microorganisms
3204 19 000 0Synthetic organic coloring matter and preparations based thereon, including mixtures of coloring matters of the subheadings 320411 to 320419:

  • 320411: Disperse dyes and preparations based thereon
  • 320412: Acid dyes, whether or not premetallized, and preparations based thereon; mordant dyes and preparations based thereon
  • 320413: Basic dyes and preparations based thereon
  • 320414: Direct dyes and preparations based thereon
  • 320415: Vat dyes (including those usable in that state as pigments) and preparations based thereon
  • 320416: Reactive dyes and preparations based thereon
  • 320417: Pigments and preparations based thereon
  • 320419: Tanning or dyeing extracts; tannins and their derivatives; dyes, pigments, and other coloring matter; paints and varnishes; putty and other mastics; inks
3503 00 100 9Other gelatin and its derivatives
3507 90 900 0Other prepared enzymes not elsewhere specified or included

Final thoughts

Our team in Russia fields many, many questions about Chestny ZNAK, and industries that must comply with the supply chain regulations. They love hearing from people and helping them understand the rules for doing business in Russia.

If you follow our blog (and we know you do), you know we’re the leader in Russian compliance. You also know we write a lot about Russian supply chain regulations. Most recently, we covered the pilot for beer, updated labeling requirements for cheese and ice cream products, and “notification mode” in the pharma supply chain. We also did a Chestny ZNAK refresher course.

So, when we heard about the Russian serialization pilot for biologically active food additives, we thought it was time to update our white papers for 2021. There have been a lot of changes over the last year. Deadlines have changed. Other pilots have ended. Requirements and process have evolved. We’re including all the latest information from Chestny ZNAK and providing much greater detail about products and requirements.

The papers — including Russian versions — be ready soon. We’ll let you know when they’re available. In the meantime, our 2020 white papers are still online. You can also visit our website for more information about our solutions for Russian compliance and contact our team in Moscow directly.

rfxcel Enters into Acquisition Agreement with Antares Vision Group

The combination of rfxcel’s industry-leading traceability software platform and Antares Vision’s solutions for intelligent track and trace will create significant value for customers.

Reno, Nevada, Feb. 19, 2021 (EINPRESSWIRE). rfxcel, a global leader in digital supply chain traceability solutions, today announced that it had entered into an acquisition agreement with Italy’s Antares Vision Group, a leading global provider of intelligent track and trace, inspection, and smart data management solutions for the life sciences and food and beverage sectors.

rfxcel CEO Glenn Abood said the agreement marked the start of an expansive era for the company he co-founded with Chief Strategy Officer Jack Tarkoff in 2003. “This is an exciting new chapter for rfxcel,” he said, “a time for the company and our customers to look to the future.

“Becoming part of Antares Vision Group will give us new ways to strengthen our relationships with our customers and provide them with enhanced solutions as they do their important work in the life sciences, food and beverage, consumer goods, and government industries. Plus,” Abood continued, “the integration of our companies’ capabilities will enable us to drive into new markets and geographies as the undisputed leader in supply chain track and trace solutions. It really is a ‘win-win’ for our global teams and our customers.”

The Antares Vision Group will leverage rfxcel’s capabilities and signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) software suite to help customers accelerate their transition toward digital and sustainable supply chains characterized by full transparency and visibility. Together, the companies will provide a full stack, end-to-end digital supply chain solution that will optimize and streamline customers’ operations while providing complete end-to-end visibility, from product ingredients and raw materials to the end customer experience.

rTS is a digital supply chain visibility platform comprising up to eight discrete solutions that work in concert to harmonize, optimize, automate, and monitor virtually every aspect of supply chain operations, including serialization, regulatory compliance, Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled monitoring, and raw materials and finished goods traceability. rfxcel also offers a Mobile Traceability app that extends the power of rTS to users at every node of the supply chain, from remote fields and warehouses to retail outlets.

Emidio Zorzella, chairman and CEO of Antares Vision, said he and co-founder Massimo Bonardi were “delighted” about the agreement with rfxcel. “Demand for traceability and serialized products and services has increased significantly over the last few years,” he said, “and this transaction accelerates our ability to offer best-in-class propositions in all our key reference sectors, life science and food and beverage. We look forward to welcoming the management and employees of rfxcel to the Antares Vision Group and working together to serve our customers across the world.”

Abood added that both companies shared the same goals and Antares Vision would help rfxcel accelerate its plans. “The rfxcel management team is delighted to join with Antares Vision to offer customers the most complete end-to-end solution for track and trace on the market today.”

For more information about the acquisition agreement or the companies’ solutions, contact Herb Wong, rfxcel’s vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives, at hwong@rfxcel.com or 925-824-0300.

About rfxcel

Founded in 2003, rfxcel provides leading-edge software solutions to help companies build and manage their digital supply chain, lower costs, and protect their products and brand reputations. Blue-chip organizations in the life sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices), food and beverage, worldwide government, and consumer goods industries trust rfxcel’s signature Traceability System (rTS) to power end-to-end supply chain solutions in key areas such as track and trace, environmental monitoring, regulatory compliance, serialization, and visibility. The company is headquartered in the United States and has offices in the United Kingdom, the EU, Latin America, Russia, India, Japan, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.

About Antares Vision

Listed since April 2019 on the AIM Italia market of the Italian Stock Exchange, Antares Vision Group guarantees the protection of products, people and brands through inspection systems for quality control, track and trace solutions for anti-counterfeiting and supply chain transparency, smart data management tools for maximized efficiency and digitalization of the supply chain, from the point of production to the end consumer. The Antares Vision Group is active in the life science sector, including the pharmaceutical, medical device, and hospital segments, as well as in other industries, including, primarily, food and beverage, cosmetics, and in consumer-packaged goods. The Group reaches over 60 countries worldwide with complete and flexible solutions, hardware, and software, with related services: it has five offices in Italy (Brescia, Parma, Piacenza, Latina and Vicenza), 15 foreign branches (Germany [2], France [2], USA [3], Latin America [2], India, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Croatia, and Serbia), three Innovation and Research Centers (Italy) and a worldwide network of more than 40 partners. With the 20 years of experience in vision technologies of the two founding partners, the Antares Vision Group is the supplier of 10 of the 20 leading pharmaceutical companies in the world (by turnover), with more than 25,000 inspection systems, which ensure everyday product safety and quality, 6,500 quality controls, and more than 3,500 serialization modules on lines installed all over the world. With the aim of continuing and supporting the growth and development strategy, during 2019, Antares Vision finalized participation agreements with T2 Software, a Brazilian company specialized in smart data management solutions, and Orobix, an Italian company leader in artificial intelligence services, and acquired 100 percent of FT System, leader in control and inspection in the beverage sector. In 2020, Antares Vision acquired 82.83 percent of Tradeticity, a Croatian company specialized in software management of traceability and serialization processes, 100 percent of Convel, an Italian company specialized in automated inspection machines for the pharmaceutical industry, the assets of Adents High Tech International, a French company specialized in software for serialization and traceability, and 100 percent of Applied Vision, a global leader in inspection systems for glass and metal containers in food and beverage. In 2019, Emidio Zorzella and Massimo Bonardi won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award for innovation. For more info: www.antaresvision.com.