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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 Selected to Speak on Supply Chain Traceability and Smart Hospital Systems at GS1 Connect 2022

AV Group members will present “Supply Chain Traceability: Can Your Business Survive Without It” and “Smarter and Safer Hospitals: When Innovative Technologies Meet Patient Safety”

Travagliato (Brescia), June 1, 2022 Antares Vision Group (AV Group), a technological partner of excellence in digitalization and integrated data management, the global leader in track and trace hardware and software solutions, and one of the main players in inspection systems for quality control and integrated data management, has been chosen to provide thought leadership presentations at the GS1 Connect Conference, June7-9 in San Diego.

In “Supply Chain Traceability: Can Your Business Survive Without It?” Herb Wong, vice president of strategy and innovation at rfxcel, which is part of AV Group, will discuss why traceability is foundational to business success in a rapidly evolving landscape of digitalization, ever-changing consumer expectations and power dynamics, tougher regulations, and supply chain uncertainty. The session will be held Thursday, June 9, at 1:45 p.m.

In on-demand session 509, “Smarter and Safer Hospitals: When Innovative Technologies Meet Patient Safety,” Antares Vision Digital Healthcare Department director Adriano Fusco, and Dr. Alberto Sanna, director of the Research Center for Advanced Technologies for Health and Well-Being of the IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, will discuss how traceability and GS1 standards enabled end-to-end visibility of medications – from their arrival at the hospital to dispensing – through the use of optimized resources that focus on patient safety.

AV Group Chairman and Co-CEO Emidio Zorzella said he was excited that GS1 Connect attendees would have the opportunity to hear Mr. Wong, Mr. Fusco, and Dr. Sanna talk about the Group’s technology. “The ultimate goals of traceability and GS1 standards are to protect people and optimize business processes,” he said. “These are also AV Group’s goals. I think people will have a strong reaction when they see how our technology is improving people’s lives, making businesses more efficient and effective and, we hope, making the world a better place.”

GS1 Connect is an annual event hosted by GS1 US. It brings together trading partners to network and learn about the value of using standards-based business processes and best practices for optimum efficiencies in managing the supply and demand sides of their value chains. The theme of this year’s conference is “Adapt,” focusing on how businesses have used GS1 Standards to overcome challenges to thrive in uncertain times. It will feature more than 40 live sessions, more than 50 exhibitors, trading partner roundtables, and other events centered on user stories and leadership insights for supply chain optimization.

For more information, contact AV Group Public Relations Specialist Davide Antonioli at davide.antonioli@antaresvision.com or +39 339-812-4446.

 

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.

AV Group provides a unique and comprehensive ecosystem of technologies — including software and hardware — to guarantee product quality (inspection systems and equipment) and end-to-end traceability (from raw materials to production, from distribution to the consumer), through integrated data management, applying artificial intelligence and blockchain too.

AV Group is active in the life sciences (pharmaceuticals, biomedical devices, and hospitals), beverage, food, and cosmetics industries, and is expanding into other sectors. The world leader in track and trace systems for pharmaceutical products, it provides major global manufacturers, including 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 2021 in the STAR segment of the Mercato Telematico Azionario (MTA) (electronic equity market), AV Group operates in 60 countries, employs approximately 1,000 people, and has a consolidated network of more than 40 international partners. antaresvisiongroup.com

rfxcel, part of AV Group, has deep expertise in providing leading-edge software solutions to help companies build and manage digital supply chains, lower costs, protect products and brand reputations, and engage consumers. rfxcel.com

Russia Serialization Update: Chestny ZNAK Beer and Dietary Supplements Pilots Ending This Summer

We’re always keeping an eye on Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System, known as Chestny ZNAK. Right now, there are two things to keep on your radar for 2022: the pilots for Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplements, both of which are scheduled to wrap up in August. Here’s a quick recap.

The Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplements pilots

Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade announced the Chestny ZNAK beer pilot in October 2020. It began on April 1, 2021, and was originally scheduled to end on February 28, 2022 — a little more than two weeks from the time we’re writing this. The pilot, or “experiment” as these test runs are called in Russia, also involves “beer-based beverages.”  It’s testing labeling for beer, beer drinks, and low-alcohol drinks that are not required to be labeled with federal special and excise stamps.

The pilot for dietary supplements began on May 1, 2021, and was originally scheduled to end on March 1, 2022. The Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT), which operates Chestny ZNAK, has not said much more than this. One thing to note, though, is that Chestny ZNAK has also referred to this product category as “biologically active food additives.”

At present, the Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplement pilots are slated to end on August 21, about five-and-a-half months from now. If you want to sell these products in the lucrative Russian market, you need to start thinking about compliance. If the CRPT follows its established protocol, there will be pilot reports and evaluations, then the regulations will go into full effect.

It’s worth noting here that two other pilots have ended, but the CRPT hasn’t issued further guidance and they are still shown as “experiments” on the Chestny ZNAK website:

    • Bicycles: A seven-month pilot ended on May 31, 2020.
    • Wheelchairs: A pilot for hand-powered wheelchairs ran from September 1, 2019, to December 1, 2020. Another pilot for wheelchairs with an electric engine or other mechanical means for locomotion ran from December 1, 2020, to June 1, 2021.

Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplements requirements

We got into the details of the Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplements pilots when they were announced in early 2021. Take a look at those articles for in-depth information, including the specific products that are being tested and that will, we assume, be regulated alongside all the other industries: bicycles, bottled drinking water, dairy, footwear, fur, light industry, medications, perfumes, photo cameras and flash bulbs, tires, tobacco, and wheelchairs.

Serialization, aggregation, unit- and batch-level traceability, crypto codes, and electronic reporting and records management are the hallmarks of Chestny ZNAK. Beer and dietary supplements, like products in other categories, must be labeled with a 2D DataMatrix code encoded with the following:

    • A 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
    • A 13-digit serial number generated by the CRPT or the economic agent
    • A 4-digit verification key from the CRPT
    • A 44-digit verification code (i.e., crypto code) from the CRPT

Final thoughts

The Chestny ZNAK beer and dietary supplements pilots are part of Russia’s ongoing effort to serialize its entire supply chain by 2024. And as our General Director of Operations in Russia Victoria Kozlova noted in World Pharma Today, the system was designed “to guarantee the authenticity and declared quality of goods being purchased by customers.”

rfxcel has been prepared for these regulations since 2018, and we’ve established ourselves as the leader in Chestny ZNAK compliance. For example:

So, if you’re looking to do business in Russia — or even if you’re already working with another provider — contact us today. Also download our Chestny ZNAK white paper and read some of our other articles about the regulations:

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Brand Protection and the Fight Against Counterfeits

Today we’re talking about wine brand protection. Why it’s important for the industry and how to use your supply chain to make it as strong as it can be. Specifically, we’re focusing on counterfeits, an evergreen problem for the industry.

Talking about brand protection is a fitting conclusion to our series of articles about wine and a great way to mark the last day of the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. Speaking of which, stop by Booth 807 to meet us and our other Antares Vision Group team members, FT System and Applied Vision. We’d love to see you before everybody heads home.

Now on to wine brand protection and the fight against counterfeits.

Why is wine brand protection important?

In the wine industry, your brand is critical to success. Whether you’re a multi-generational operation or the new kid on the block trying to make your mark, it’s one of your most valuable assets.

Your brand tells the story of your wine, from the soil and the vines to the bottle to your customers’ tables. It connects you to your partners and consumers. It sets you apart from your competition. It’s your identity out there in the world.

Alas, wine — and spirts — are under a constant barrage of brand protection threats and challenges. The circumstances range from bad actors trying to rip you off to the ebb and flow of the market and the trends that are defining it as we’ve made our way into the 2020s. Today, we’re focusing on the bad actors. Let us know if you’d like us to write more about factors or have anything to add to our discussion.

Counterfeits and fakes

Counterfeits and fakes are the undisputed champion of threats to wine brand protection. It’s an age-old problem, though industry observers rightly note that the pandemic has created more opportunities for fraud. The increase in online sales, including auctions, and less in-person due diligence because of travel restrictions are two examples.

How is wine counterfeited? Let us count the ways. There can be theft at production and storage sites. Theft and diversion also happen as wine is being delivered across the supply chain.

Counterfeiters also like to misrepresent a wine’s origin, vintage, variety, blend — really anything that distinguishes a brand and increases their chances of making a profit.

“Damaged wines” also manage to get into the marketplace. These might have been stored at the wrong temperature or have torn labels and bad corks. Adulterated or cheap wine is bottled in a prestige package.

In Part 1 of our wine traceability series, we mentioned the notorious Rudy Kurniawan. But the daily reality of counterfeit wine (and spirts) is much less dramatic. Consider these news items:

In 2011, hundreds of bottles of fake Jacob’s Creek wine were seized in the UK. More recently, a shopkeeper in England was fined more than $5,000 for having 142 bottles of fake Yellow Tail on his shelves. He said he bought the wine from a man who popped by his shop in an unmarked van; authorities say he could have profited in excess of $600 by selling the plonk. He didn’t get a receipt or an invoice, and the man in the van has not been found. Interestingly, analysis showed that the bogus Yellow Tail was less than 12 percent alcohol. Real Yellowtail is 13.5 percent. This is another example of how counterfeit wine is adulterated.

In 2020, 4,200 counterfeit bottles of Bolgheri Sassicaia, a prestigious (and very expensive) wine, were seized in operation “Bad Tuscan.” Revealing the international nature of counterfeiting, investigators said the fake wine originated in Sicily, the bottles came from Turkey, and the labels and wooden boxes came from Bulgaria. Furthermore, “The 2010 and 2015 vintages, celebrated by Italian and international critics, were the most prevalent among the fakes.”

As for the spirts industry, fake bourbon is hot right now and authorities nabbed 400+ liters of counterfeit vodka this month in Scotland.

To illustrate the problem more broadly, about 1.7 million liters of counterfeit alcohol was seized in Europe between December 2020 and June 2021. That haul was part of a joint INTERPOL-Europol operation called OPSON X, which netted almost 15,500 tons of illegal products with an estimated street value of nearly $60 million. Upwards of 68,000 checks were carried out by 72 participating countries, resulting in more than 1,000 criminal cases.

The upshot is that up to 20 percent of wine sold worldwide is fake and counterfeits cost the industry as much as $3 billion every year.

What can we do about it?

Counterfeiters and fraudsters exploit weaknesses. This is what gives them openings to assault your brand. The good news is that you can mitigate these weaknesses and gather real-time intelligence for effective brand protection strategies using your supply chain.

Your supply chain mirrors your brand. It’s the embodiment of your business. If it’s not healthy, your brand can’t be healthy. You need to be able to continuously scan it, diagnose it, and take immediate action should a threat arise.

Four supply chain solutions in particular are vital for wine brand protection: serialization, real-time monitoring, end-to-end traceability, and mobile traceability.

We talk about these in Part 2 of our brand protection series, “Brand Protection Strategies and Your Supply Chain.” Part 1 talks about top supply chain threats and your brand protection strategy. We encourage you to read these articles, as well as our consumer engagement series.

Final thoughts

Your success and reputation depend on how seriously you take brand protection. This means being able to authenticate every ingredient and every bottle. You have to monitor and prove storage conditions and provenance. You have to have deep, real-time insight into what you’re doing and where your products were, are, and will be. And you have to have the granular data to back up every claim and demonstrate to your customers that your wine is exactly what you say it is.

If you read our “Wine Consumer Engagement: Ten Things to Know for 2022” post from the other day, you saw that our mantra for wine consumer engagement is “A message in every bottle.” For wine brand protection, we like to say that you should tap into the “Brut” force of your supply chain. The short list of benefits includes:

    • Fortify with supply chain data and protect with unique digital IDs
    • Create an indelible provenance and create your product story
    • Monitor in real time 24/7
    • Inspire consumer trust and crowdsource brand protection
    • Leverage IoT to eliminate blind spots
    • Maintain chain of ownership
    • Protect trading partners and consumers

And, of course, combat counterfeits and theft. Contact us today to learn more about pairing your brand with the finest supply chain solution for wine brand protection. Also be sure to read our other articles about the wine supply chain and why your supply chain is vital for effective brand protection and consumer engagement:

Wine Consumer Engagement: Ten Things to Know for 2022

Virtual tastings are so 2020. Don’t get us wrong: They’re still a thing. But to do wine consumer engagement right in 2022, winemakers have to do a lot more than ask people to hop on a Zoom call. That’s why today we’re talking about 10 things that are vital to successful wine consumer engagement.

Also, don’t forget that the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium starts today! We’ll be exhibiting with our fellow Antares Vision Group member companies FT System and Applied Vision, so sign up today and visit us at Booth 807.

Ten things to know about wine consumer engagement in 2022

Like our recent “Five Wine Supply Chain Trends for 2022” and “Trends for the Digital Wine Supply Chain” blog posts, we’re not ranking these aspects of wine consumer engagement. They’re all important. Winemakers should consider each carefully when crafting their engagement strategies.

1. Nail your story

Your brand’s story is vital to wine consumer engagement. (All consumer engagement, actually.) It’s the foundation of “the face” and the heart of the personality you’re going to project to your customers and potential customers. What do you want people to know about you? Where is your brand “coming from”? What sets you apart from other brands?

Many of the other aspects of wine consumer engagement we’re discussing today stem from and overlap with the decisions you make about your story. To get this right, expect to do some soul-searching and ask yourself some tough questions about who and what your brand is.

2. Know your customers

It’s Marketing 101, right? If you don’t know who’s buying your products, you’re missing opportunities and wasting money. Today, however, knowing your customers requires elbow grease. You have to devote time and resources to gather information (i.e., data) and develop profiles to inform your wine consumer engagement.

Here’s a handy tool: ALE. It’s an appropriately wine-and-spirits-flavored abbreviation for ask, listen, and engage. Ask consumers questions. Listen — really listen — to their answers, feedback, suggestions, opinions, etc. Importantly, what they say might not jibe with your own vision of your brand, so be willing to adapt and pivot and do the extra work to give people what they want, not what you want them to want.

To engage, pull out all the stops. Social media, of course. But you can also get out into the real world. Talk with sommeliers to see what’s trending with wine lovers. Talk with retailers to learn what people are thinking and buying. For instance, is there a cheaper brand that people are being drawn to? What brands have buzz?

We all know that wine can be a very personal experience. It’s part of its appeal. It’s why people get excited about wine and anticipate the purchase as much as the uncorking. Take advantage of that. Ask, listen, and engage.

3. Customer first, brand second

So, you’ve done the research and know who your customers are. Time to let them know all about your brand, right?

Not really.

Always remember that wine consumer engagement is about the consumer. They are the hero, not you. It can be a difficult lesson to learn, but your job is to guide people toward what they want and demonstrate the value your brand brings. Don’t make it all about you, because it’s not. Give people what they want to see and share, not what you want to show them.

4. Accept that you might not be that special

This might sting. You have to be self-aware. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses. You have look in the mirror and do an honest self-assessment.

What, if anything, makes you unique? Remember, unique means unlike anything else. One of a kind. Are your competitors saying they’re unique while making the same claims you’re making?

Industry observers are noting that wineries are saying the same thing. “Estate-grown,” “multi-generational,” “visionary winemaker,” and “terroir” are on their short list of traits and lingo that are decidedly not unique in the market. You can talk about these things, but don’t pin your identity on them.

Knowing your customers is what will make your brand stand out. What do they like (and dislike) about your wines? Where do they drink your wines? How do they “use” your wines? Are they talking about and sharing your wines on social media? What do they expect from you? Meeting their demands is what will make your brand special.

5. Be yourself

All this said, it is critical to be yourself. Don’t put on airs. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Don’t be a bore. Today’s consumers have a nose for you-know-what. If they get even a whiff of phoniness, watch out. So, you have to be authentic. Keep it real.

6. Focus on sharing

Think of wine consumer engagement as a self-perpetuating chain in which the links are interactions, including sharing between and among your customers. For this to happen, you have to create content that people want to see, experience, and share. The possibilities are virtually limitless — videos, contests, loyalty programs, giveaways, prizes … . Just remember to focus on your consumers, not yourself.

7. Always bring value to consumers

Ask yourself this question every day: What have you done for them lately?

You must always bring value to your customers. “ABV” — another industry-appropriate abbreviation. This means different things to different people, of course. For some, it might mean proving the provenance of your wines and demonstrating that you’re focused on transparency and sustainability. For others, it could mean sharing a picture of your team out in the vineyard or a fun promotion, such as winning a prize for sharing a video. If you’re not always bringing value to your customers, who are the heroes of your wine consumer engagement, you’re going to push them away.

8. Devote resources

Wine consumer engagement isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. It shouldn’t be an afterthought delegated to whoever might happen to have some spare time.

You need a person or a team to conceptualize and create content, push it out across all your channels, monitor and analyze reactions, make changes, and respond to what people are saying and asking. You also need to pay attention to what your competitors are doing and saying.

In other words, you have to be fully engaged in your consumer engagement.

9. Business as usual probably won’t cut it

It’s a cliché because it’s true: You have to think outside the box. Running an email campaign* or posting a video on Facebook then kicking back with a nice Pinot to watch your sales boom isn’t how wine consumer engagement works. It’s called consumer engagement for a reason: You want to get a response. You want to build that self-perpetuating chain of interactions. Creativity is key. It’s another reason to devote resources to make sure you’re doing it right.

*A note about email and marketing: Some people say it’s dead; others say it’s alive and well. Only you can decide if it works for your brand and if it should be part of your consumer engagement strategy.

10. Leverage supply chain data

We’ll let you in on our secret: The key to effective wine consumer engagement is your supply chain, which is a goldmine of actionable data.

The basic building block is serialization, which turns every product into what we call a “digital asset.” Each digital asset has a unique digital identity that can be monitored from production all the way to the person who buys it. With rich, traceable data about every item in your supply chain at your fingertips, you can establish and maintain connections with consumers before, during, and after the sale. For example:

    • Link every product to unique content and brand interactions
    • Give consumers the information they demand (e.g., provenance, transparency, sustainability)
    • Hyper-personalize and hyper-target every engagement based on location, time, or purchasing data
    • Empower consumers to reject counterfeits, alert for diversions/gray markets, authenticate products, help with recalls
    • Gain valuable insight into your customers

Final thoughts

“A message in every bottle.” This is rfxcel’s mantra for using your supply chain for wine consumer engagement. Our Traceability System provides granular data from the vineyard all the way into your customers’ daily lives. You can use it to define and tell your story, know your customers and bring them value, and inspire your brand to think outside the box.

If you’re at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium this week, stop by Booth 807 to see our solutions in action and learn more about how we can help your brand stand out in a very crowded market. If you aren’t there, contact us today to schedule a short demo with one of our digital supply chain experts.

And be sure to read our other articles about the wine supply chain and why your supply chain is vital for effective consumer engagement and brand protection:

Five Wine Supply Chain Trends for 2022

It’s definitely not a Dry January in our blog. As we’re gearing up for next week’s Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, we thought we’d write about wine all month. And what better way to start than to look at wine supply chain trends for 2022?

Before we start, though, we want you to know that we have some complimentary passes for the Symposium (first come, first served). Head over to our sign-up page to find out more. If you attend the show, visit us at Booth 807. Our fellow Antares Vision Group member companies FT System and Applied Vision will be there too. Plus, we’re giving away a few bottles of fine Italian wine.

Now, on to five wine supply chain trends for 2022 (in no particular order).

Consumers will try new things from lesser-known regions

Last year, many wine drinkers may not have been able to find the bottles they wanted. The main culprits were shortages and, um, bottlenecks in the supply chain. People also stocked up on their favorites whenever they had the chance.

As a result, industry experts say that 2022 will be the year consumers expand their palates, trying wines from different regions and makers. This may not necessarily be by choice, but people will adapt to the circumstances. For example, shortages of champagne will make sparkling wines the go-to for those special occasions. And if burgundy isn’t on the shelves, reds from Chile and South Africa could fill the void.

Less expensive wines, more compelling stories

It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time: Consumers want better value and expect companies to be forthright about how they make their products. And if a brand doesn’t deliver, consumers will drop it without a second thought. Plus, they’ll probably tell their friends and post on social media too, which is never good news for brand protection and consumer engagement.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves just a bit. Less expensive wines and more compelling stories. In 2022, many consumers will be trying to economize while continuing to demand transparency, accountability, and sustainability from the brands they buy. They will also expect more interaction with their brands.

For winemakers, this means supply chain traceability to build an indelible provenance for every bottle and sharing more information about all aspects of their operations, such as how they care for their vineyards, who harvests the grapes, and who crafted the wine inside the bottle.

Innovating to reclaim market share/lure younger drinkers

The rise of “wine alternatives” is a classic market success story — at least it was until the middle of last year. Sales of hard seltzer, for instance, reached $4.5 billion from May 2020 to May 2021. Though there’s been a slowdown in that segment, the fact remains that consumers were lured away from wine; in 2022, the industry will be trying to lure them back.

Winemakers will have to think outside the box to reach these consumers. New products, including “wine proxies” and organics, are one tact. Innovative marketing, such as home delivery services, more ecommerce, and hyper-targeted consumer engagement, will also be key to the wine supply chain.

“Nolo” and “natural” products

We just mentioned “wine proxies” and organics. Both have gained traction in recent years. According to IWSR, the market value of no/low alcohol (Nolo) products in 2021 reached almost $10 billion, up from $7.8 billion in 2018.

The London-based market research group also forecasts that Nolo volume will grow by 8 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2021 and 2025. And total Nolo volume is forecasted to grow by 31 percent by 2024. In contrast, IWSR says “regular” alcohol will grow by 0.7 percent CAGR from 2021 to 2025.

For organic wine, IWSR forecasts that the worldwide market will reach 87.5 million cases by 2022 and account for 4 percent of total consumption by 2024. Certified organic wine volume consumption, it reports, has increased an average of 9 percent annually between 2014 and 2019. The amount of certified area under vine (and in conversion) has also boomed, particularly in Italy, Spain, and France.

And though the Top 5 organic wine markets (Germany, France, the UK, Sweden, and the United States) and the Top 10 markets account for more than 60 percent and 80 percent of global consumption, respectively, the category is expected to expand into other markets.

Visibility, traceability, transparency in the wine supply chain (a.k.a. brand protection and consumer engagement)

The last two years have shown us that visibility, traceability, transparency are more important than ever and are the best way to optimize, safeguard, and leverage your supply chain for business value.

    • Visibility means using data to gain insight into how your supply chain is functioning and to take steps to make it run more efficiently. The goal is to see every ingredient/input, every product, every partner, every handoff … everything.
    • Transparency means communicating supply chain knowledge internally and externally so all stakeholders, including consumers, can see how you operate.
    • Traceability means you can follow a product to its point of origin and prove what it is and where it came from.

For the wine industry, this trifecta is even more crucial, particularly due to the scourge of counterfeits and consumers’ ever-growing demand for accountability. Your supply chain is your No. 1 asset for brand protection and consumer engagement. We’re going to be writing more about these topics in the coming days, so check back soon. In the meantime, you can read our two-part series about traceability in the wine supply chain.

Final thoughts

So, there are five wine supply chain trends to keep an eye on in 2022. (Digitization is another; we’ll be writing about that next, so check back later this week!)

We’re truly excited about the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. We’ll have a demo of our solutions for the wine supply chain, and FT System and Applied Vision will be exhibiting their technologies too. We do have some complimentary passes and will be giving away a few bottles of fine Italian wine, so sign up today and visit us at Booth 807. We’d love to see you!

And do come back to our blog throughout our decidedly non-Nolo January. Find out why we’re the grand cru of supply chain solutions for winemaking and grapegrowing!

 

Brand Protection Strategies and Your Supply Chain

Welcome to Part II of our brand protection series. In Part I, we talked about the top supply chain threats that brand protection strategies must address: counterfeits, diversion, theft, and insufficient traceability.

Today, we’re talking about the supply chain solutions that combat these threats — solutions that should be integral to your brand protection strategies.

A holistic supply chain approach to brand protection strategies

Your supply chain is the embodiment of your business. If it’s not healthy, your brand can’t be healthy. You need to be able to continuously scan it, diagnose it, and take immediate action should a threat arise.

Fine-tuned digital supply chain solutions are the answer. Working together from end to end, they create a “central nervous system” that monitors and senses every touch point in real time while collecting and sharing data to inform your next move.

Serialization, real-time monitoring, and end-to-end traceability are the key solutions that help mitigate supply chain threats and provide the intelligence for effective brand protection strategies. Let’s take a look.

Serialization

Serialization is the building block of a secure supply chain and effective brand protection strategies. By assigning a unique serial number to each product, you create what rfxcel calls a “digital asset” with a unique digital identity. Every product can be linked to virtually any information you want, such as its origin, when it was harvested or manufactured, its lot number, and its expiration date.

Serialization also enables you to track every individual unit through your entire supply chain, from production to retail distribution to the final consumer and beyond. It creates a barrier to fight counterfeits and fakes and contributes to end-to-end traceability that eliminates blind spots and locks down your supply chain.

Serialization also fuels brand protection strategies because you can leverage each digital asset for consumer engagement to build confidence and trust. As we said in Part I of our consumer engagement series, your customers are absolutely a part of brand protection, and serialization empowers them in three important ways.

First, it’s the basis of an indelible, demonstrable, shareable product provenance that proves that your product is what you say it is and gives consumers the information they demand.

Second, as we discussed in Part II of our consumer engagement series, your serialized product is a device for one-on-one communication with your customers. For example, with a quick smartphone scan of a 2D Data Matrix code, a person can access rich data about your product and exclusive content through which they’ll establish and build a relationship with your brand.

Third, serialization lets you “crowdsource” brand protection through your consumer engagement activities. For example, if a person scans a product and the scan doesn’t work or they’re taken to a suspect website or other suspicious content, you can incentivize them to contact you and report that something is wrong. This is actionable, granular data that will protect your brand.

Real-time monitoring

A blind spot in your supply chain creates opportunities for trouble. Common blind spots include deviations from prescribed routes and harmful environmental conditions. The solution is real-time monitoring.

rfxcel’s Integrated Monitoring solution paints a vibrant, detailed picture of where your products are and what is happening to them. It provides better data, continuity, visibility, and security to protect your products and consumers. With detailed, unit-level data coming in around the clock, you’ll understand and immediately act upon specific risks.

It works like this: Pallets, cases, or unit-level items are equipped with Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled sensors that send data over communication networks at regular intervals. The sensors provide real-time information about how long an item has been in transit, if the transport vehicle is sticking to its approved route, if the shipment stopped and for how long, and environmental conditions such as temperature, light, humidity, and shock. If something is not as it’s supposed to be, the sensors transmit an alert so you can halt shipments that may have been adulterated and redirect shipments to keep products safe. You’ll protect your customers and safeguard your brand.

Check out our short videos about our Integrated Monitoring solution for the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries.

End-to-end traceability

End-to-end traceability in a digital supply chain means you can design end-to-end brand protection strategies.

With a suite of solutions acting in concert — like our Traceability System — you’ll create a full, traceable provenance for every product. You can add critical tracking events and key data elements at any point in your supply chain. For example, add a photo of a product as it leaves the factory or integrate a quality inspection to enrich the data associated with the product. Consumers can access this information and confirm that your product is what you say it is. This burnishes your reputation and builds trust with the people who buy your products or are thinking about buying your products.

rfxcel Traceability System

And there are numerous other benefits of end-to-end traceability. If you can see every part of your supply chain from one end to the other, you’ll be able to manage operations more efficiently, including dealing with recalls and other crisis situations. You’ll make it harder for counterfeits and fakes to reach consumers. You’ll consolidate data to improve processes, outcomes, and product quality. And you’ll be empowered to make better decisions based on that data.

Mobile traceability: an on-the-go solution for brand protection strategies

A discussion of brand protection strategies isn’t complete without mentioning mobile traceability. Why? Because if you don’t have access to your supply chain data 24/7, no matter where you are, you’re not shedding light on blind spots and not building a solid perimeter around your brand.

rfxcel’s MobileTraceability solution brings our industry-leading track and trace capabilities to virtually any location, including places that traditionally may not have had absolute visibility in your supply chain, such as remote fields, distribution centers, and warehouses. With unparalleled convenience and speed, it gives you everything you need to keep you supply chain running at optimal efficiency. To learn more, read about what our Mobile Traceability solution can do for the pharmaceutical and food and beverage supply chains.

Final thoughts

A supply chain problem is a brand protection problem. By giving all your products a unique digital identity through serialization, then following and controlling them in real time with integrated monitoring and traceability solutions, you can demonstrate to the world that your brand is strong and reliable. You can build a reputation for integrity and transparency with partners and consumers. You can use data to innovate your brand protection strategies, consumer engagement activities, and every part of your operations.

With rfxcel, you can fortify your brand with data from a digital supply chain. You can combat the threats we’ve discussed no matter where you are and no matter where you supply chain goes. Contact us today to see how our solutions can work for better, stronger brand protection strategies.

Top Reasons Your Supply Chain Is the Key to an Effective Consumer Engagement Strategy

Welcome to Part II of our series about effective consumer engagement. In Part I, we talked about the benefits of consumer engagement. Today, we’re focusing on your supply chain — and how you can use it for a next-level consumer engagement strategy. Let’s jump right in.

It’s all about data from your supply chain

Your supply chain is a gold mine of information that you can leverage for a robust consumer engagement strategy. The basic building block is serialization, which turns each one of your products into what we call “digital assets.” Each digital asset has a unique digital identity that can be monitored from production all the way to the person who buys it.

With rich, traceable data about every item in your supply chain at your fingertips, you can establish and maintain connections with consumers before, during, and after the sale. (You can also do much, much more, but that’s beyond the scope of what we’re talking about today.)

Four ways supply chain data can supercharge your consumer engagement strategy

1. You’ll share the product information that consumers demand. Consumers demand information. Every product — every digital asset — in your supply chain can be “loaded” with data that consumers can access at the store, at home, at a restaurant, at a sporting event. Anywhere. For example, a quick scan of a 2D Data Matrix code or QR code with a smart phone will reveal every detail you want to share about your product: where and when it was grown or made, its ingredients, the route it took to get to the consumer. This demonstrable provenance using supply chain data builds consumer trust and confidence; it is foundational to consumer engagement.

2. You’ll create compelling customer experiences. Consumers also want experiences. With data from your supply chain and other brand resources (e.g., an app) you can curate experiences such as contests, loyalty programs, games, and unique online content. You can encourage storytelling about your brand. If you’re a winemaker, connect people to a virtual tour of your vineyard. If you sell organic foods, share video recipes online or invite people to see your sustainable operations. If you make cosmetics, link to virtual try-ons. Importantly, you can hyper-personalize and hyper-target every engagement, and even “broadcast” specific information to specific locations or events.

3. You’ll communicate directly with consumers. Your serialized product is a device for one-on-one communication with the person who bought it. When a customer accesses the information from your digital asset, you can connect them to your website, social media, an app, a survey, or other forums where they can start a conversation with your brand. They can ask questions and provide feedback — and you can give answers and reactions. Relationship-building is another cornerstone of an effective consumer engagement strategy, and the products people are literally holding in their hands are the first step of the conversation.

4. You’ll gain valuable insight into your customers. An effective consumer engagement strategy creates a world for your customers. And as they navigate and participate in that world, they share information. Where are they buying your products? What do they like? What don’t they like? What inspires them? What engagement activities resonated the most? This business intelligence can inform every part of your business, from how your supply chain works to creating better consumer engagement strategies.

Final thoughts

The purchase used to be the last part of your supply chain; now it’s the beginning of a new realm of possibilities. Every digital asset is an opportunity to connect your customers to your brand and put your products front and center in their lives.

rfxcel’s Traceability System is an end-to-end supply chain solution that creates the digital assets. It gives you in-depth, real-time insights all the way from production to your final customers. The data you connect to your products will fuel compelling consumer engagement activities that can reach people everywhere you do business.

And now, as part of Antares Vision Group, we can offer even more ways to engage with consumers. Contact us today to find out more.

 

BONUS CONTENT!

Last year, we did a piece called “Supply-Chain Traceability Is Building a New Kind of Consumer Kingdom.” Here’s an excerpt that ties into what we’ve said about an effective consumer engagement strategy:

In fact, consumers are not only thinking deeply about where the things they buy come from and what goes into making them, they are actually becoming a pivotal part of the supply chain itself. What’s more, they’re participating willingly and with gusto, demanding detailed information about the goods they purchase and even expecting to interact with products far beyond the point of sale. Just how far will they go to get what they want? More than 70% of customers say they’re willing to share their data in exchange for a more personalized experience, according to one recent survey.

Read the full article here.

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.