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Compelling Arguments for Transparency in the Global Seafood Supply Chain

This is the last installment of our global seafood supply chain Transparency Trilogy. Thanks for reading!

If you read our first and second blogs about transparency in the global seafood supply chain, you probably feel that the seafood sector needs to change its tune. Sure, industry thought leaders are re-evaluating how they do business and have taken some initial steps to make transparency the norm — that’s what leaders do — but widespread change has yet to come.

The seafood supply chain remains opaque and complex. There are countless opportunities for products to be compromised as they change hands over and over again on their global journey “from catch to plate.” Fish populations continue to be depleted. Trading partners don’t always trust each other, and they certainly don’t always like to share their data (if they have any data at all). And people continue to be exploited and abused on land and sea.

Let’s look at a few of the most pressing problems facing the industry and how transparency can help solve them.

The specter of slavery

Yes, slavery.

In a 2014 blog post, Human Trafficking Search, an international organization that seeks to raise awareness and help prevent and eliminate human trafficking worldwide, wrote, “It is not a new revelation that slavery plagues the global food system.”

So, six years ago, slavery was “not a new revelation.” Alas, more recent headlines confirm the global seafood supply chain has not dealt with this problem:

If ever there was an argument for change in the global seafood supply chain, this is it. Transparency will combat slavery by shining a light on who is doing the fishing, who is processing and transporting the seafood, etc. We’re all in.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing

UII fishing includes fishing during off-season breeding periods, catching and selling unmanaged fish stocks, and selling fish caught by slaves. It threatens the stability of seafood ecosystems in every body of water where it occurs.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), IUU fishing “remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavors to conserve marine biodiversity.”

Furthermore, the FAO reports that IUU fishing accounts for as much as 26 million tons of seafood annually, valued between $10-23 billion. It capitalizes on corrupt governments and exploits weak management systems. In some countries, it has been linked to organized crime. It depletes resources, which can cause local fisheries to collapse. It threatens livelihoods, intensifies poverty, and increases food insecurity.

Transparency helps mitigate UII fishing because it enables buyers and wholesalers to guarantee the provenance of their product. It will help shrink markets for illegally sourced fish, as more trading partners — and consumers — will demand data that proves seafood is from a legal, regulated source and has been reported to the appropriate government agencies.

Food fraud

Food fraud is the illegal practice of substituting one food for another. It’s very dangerous, and it happens around the world, usually when the supply for a commodity fluctuates. To keep an in-demand product flowing to customers, fishermen and restaurateurs can feel pressure to commit seafood fraud, replacing one species for another.

Studies by Oceana, which works to protect and restore the Earth’s oceans, illustrate how pervasive food fraud is. For example, between March and August 2018:

    • Twenty-one percent of 449 fish Oceana researchers tested were mislabeled.
    • One-third of establishments sold mislabeled seafood.
    • Mislabeling was found at 26 percent of restaurants, 24 percent of small markets, and 12 percent of larger chain grocery stores.
    • Sea bass and snapper were mislabeled the most.

Transparency fights food fraud by holding all nodes of the seafood supply chain accountable for what they’re selling. Put simply, with transparency, there’s nowhere for unscrupulous actors to hide.

Consumer health and food safety

Without a transparent supply chain, it’s difficult to safeguard consumer health and food safety. Imagine what a widespread foodborne illness outbreak and consequent recalls would look like without supply chain transparency and traceability.

As with the problems we’ve discussed above, the seafood industry isn’t fully part of the solution for consumer health and food safety concerns. Food fraud (species substitution) continues to make people sick and cause death. Mishandled seafood continues to carry high histamine levels, posing health risks to millions of people.

People want to assume they are eating safe, authentic food. Transparency will not only give consumers peace of mind, it will go a long way to build — or rebuild — their sense of trust with the seafood industry. In every aspect, transparency is a win-win for everybody.

Final thoughts about transparency in the global seafood supply chain

To wrap up our transparency trilogy, we want the seafood industry to know that supply chain transparency is within reach and that it doesn’t have to be painful.

Forgive the pun, but the world is the industry’s oyster: Help is available all around you. Government and global initiatives such as the GDST want to work with you to become more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and ethical. Consumers are also ready to help; if you build transparency into your supply chain, they will come.

And rfxcel is with you too, here to answer your questions about achieving transparency in your supply chain. We want you to know you have three options that we call “Keep, Replace, Provide”:

    • Keep your current system, but integrate it with new solutions.
    • Replace outdated systems with less complicated solutions that, in the long run, do more for less money.
    • Look to rfxcel to provide a new supply chain system that closes all the gaps and brings you to full transparency.

Take a look at our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS), the most complete and flexible raw materials and finished goods traceability solution for the industry. Check out our rfxcel MobileTraceability app, which can track any batch, movement, and handler at any location, putting the power of a digital supply chain at your fingertips. And our rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) solution lets supply chain actors see their products in real time and mine rich unit-level data about more than a dozen environmental conditions.

Learn more about these and our other solutions for F&B here and contact us to start a conversation about transparency in your supply chain.

How Transparency Benefits the Global Seafood Supply Chain

This is Part 2 of our global seafood supply chain Transparency Trilogy. Check back on Friday for the last installment, as well as other food and beverage news!

In the first part of our trilogy, we talked about why the worldwide call for global seafood supply chain transparency has gotten louder and louder. Now we’re ready to talk about how transparency benefits the supply chain itself.

Spoiler alert: It just makes everything better!

Can a penny-pincher be proactive?

If asked, most seafood companies would probably say their intentions are good and they support a “do no harm” approach in their operations. They see themselves as guardians of a well-managed resource; indeed, they’d argue that it’s in their best interests to promote sustainability, legal fishing practices, environmental responsibility, and supply chain transparency. After all, if fish populations dwindle, they could be out of business.

Many companies have policies that require their buyers to verify (as much as possible) that the seafood they procure meets minimum standards for sustainability, safety, and quality. Such self-regulation is a good first step, but the reality is that enforcing these standards is tough. Very tough.

Lack of transparency in the supply chain is one reason for this. But given its overwhelming “pros,” why do seafood companies continue to view transparency as a cost rather than an investment? Sure, it takes money — sometimes a lot of money — to implement the systems, but there are compelling reasons for actors in the seafood industry to open their wallets and get on board with transparency in a digital supply chain.

The benefits of global seafood supply chain transparency: What stakeholders should know

From “catch to plate,” transparency benefits everybody in the seafood supply chain. Here’s how.

Suppliers. These are the processors and manufacturers. They benefit from transparency because it allows them to protect their business investments and comply with regulations. Suppliers can use transparency data to show their trading partners and consumers that they are doing things the right way, the responsible and sustainable way. Transparency also lets them control their supply chains more accurately and improves the quality of their product, also important selling points for partners and consumers.

Suppliers can also use transparency to build their brand reputations. For example, they can engage with consumers directly, using data to demonstrate that their products are sustainably sourced and legitimate, and that they are responsible corporate citizens. These are qualities that consumers will demand more, not less, as they have ever-expanding ways to verify what they’re buying and more options for where to spend their money.

Brands and distributors. Transparency lets brands and distributors know exactly what they’re purchasing, which will give them peace of mind about the origins, sustainability, and legitimacy of the products they offer. Furthermore, like suppliers, they can comply with regulations, such as the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). Brands and distributors can also use transparency to build their reputations and solidify their relationships with customers. Being able to prove the who, what, when, where, how, and why of their products is a powerful tool for branding and communications.

Retailers, food service groups/providers, and consumers. High-quality products with traceable provenance give retailers and food service companies better control over their supply chains and more ways (i.e., data) to protect their brands. Like suppliers, brands, and distributors, they’ll be able to entice customers and secure their loyalty.

At the very end of the supply chain, it’s consumers who stand to gain the most from transparency. They’ll know where their seafood comes from. They’ll know it’s safe, and they’ll feel good about being responsible shoppers. And as transparency really becomes the norm, they’ll be inclined to purchase only products that can prove provenance, and only from companies that can prove they are “doing the right thing” when it comes to the global seafood supply chain.

Final thoughts about global seafood supply chain transparency

rfxcel is part of the transparency solution. If you read our last blog about transparency in the global seafood supply chain, you’ve seen that our solutions optimize traceability, transparency, efficiency, and quality so supply chain stakeholders and consumers alike can reap the benefits.

For seafood and all other F&B supply chains, the latest version of our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) is the most complete and flexible raw materials and finished goods traceability solution for the industry. Our rfxcel MobileTraceability app can track any batch, movement, and handler at any location, putting the power of a digital supply chain at your fingertips. And with our rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) solution, supply chain actors can see their products in real time and mine rich unit-level data about more than a dozen environmental conditions.

Learn more about these and our other solutions for F&B here. And be sure to visit again soon for the last installment of our seafood transparency trilogy.

rfxcel MobileTraceability App for Pharma: Mobile Data Capture from Virtually Any Location Optimizes Supply Chain Logistics and Patient Safety

rfxcel is dedicated to optimizing the pharmaceutical supply chain. We want to remove boundaries, improve data capture and usage, and ensure patient safety.

With our new and improved rfxcel MobileTraceability application, pharma companies, dispensers, and pharmacies can do all of these things — and much more.

rfxcel MobileTraceability 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 distribution centers, warehouses, pharmacies, and hospitals. It also brings the power of a digital supply chain, moving you away from paper records and streamlining your operations.

The app integrates the power of our signature Traceability System (rTS) with the built-in scanning capabilities of mobile devices and scanners. With rTS tracking and reporting capabilities on a mobile device, the workflow of the pharma supply chain is simplified. For example, manufacturers and distributors can perform critical tasks quickly and easily, such as verifying shipments and receipts, and aggregating/disaggregating pallets and cases.

rfxcel MobileTraceability supports multiple platforms, from ruggedized devices with optimized scanners to consumer devices with built-in cameras, such as smartphones. Now you can select devices that meet your needs and budget without comprising on performance.

With these capabilities literally right in their hands, dispensers can:

  • Ensure only legally compliant items are dispensed
  • Scan and verify dispensed products
  • Decommission products
  • Scan sealed bags to automatically decommission all packs inside

The app also offers key benefits to pharmacies. Its simple user interface makes it easy to use, reducing the chance of errors and false override of alerts. It also facilitates intense collaboration and coordination externally and internally to:

  • Achieve regulatory compliance
  • Improve risk management, recall management, and inventory management
  • Automate and review distribution flows and processes
  • Create specialized receiving capabilities
  • Ensure patient safety with store returns and recalls functionality
  • Gain true end-to-end supply chain traceability

rfxcel MobileTraceability adapts to any workflow, transforming how you manage your supply chain. The pharma industry has unique demands, and a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work. The app allows us to be as flexible as you need us to be and to deliver granular visibility and flexibility anywhere your supply chain goes. Contact us today to learn more about what rfxcel MobileTraceability can do for you.

rfxcel MobileTraceability App for Food and Beverage: Mobile Data Capture from Virtually Any Location and the Power of a Digital Supply Chain

rfxcel MobileTraceability App for Food and Beverage: Mobile Data Capture from Virtually Any Location and the Power of a Digital Supply Chain

We want to remove all boundaries from the food and beverage supply chain. And our new and improved rfxcel MobileTraceability application does just that.

rfxcel MobileTraceability lets you capture vital data and events no matter where you are — including places that traditionally may not have been visible in supply chains. Furthermore, it brings the power of a digital supply chain, moving you away from paper records and streamlining your operations.

The app integrates the power of our signature Traceability System (rTS) with the built-in scanning capabilities of mobile devices and scanners. It brings our industry-leading track and trace capabilities to virtually any location — farms and fields, distribution centers, warehouses, and even markets.

Rich data can now be created and accessed in a timely manner by the people who need it most. For maximum flexibility, rfxcel MobileTraceability supports multiple platforms, from ruggedized devices with optimized scanners to consumer devices with built-in cameras, such as smartphones. Now you can select devices that meet your needs and budget without comprising on performance.

The app not only adapts to any workflow, but can transform how companies manage their supply chains. Critical tracking events and key data elements can be added to a product’s record. For example, users can add a photo or use the app to capture quality inspections to enrich the data associated with any product as it moves from harvest in the field to the shelves at a market.

Other key features include:

  • Role-based access to the system for unlimited users helps manage accountability
  • Assign a unique number to a new raw material used in production
  • Record data about raw materials, including batch number, supplier, date of arrival, expiration, and analytics
  • Track any batch, movement, and handler
  • Change the status of a raw material (e.g., expired, consumed) and notify the user(s) responsible for purchasing more
  • Use the search function to quickly locate any item in your system (lot, case, unit)
  • Track any ingredient that’s part of a finished good

Today’s food and beverage supply chain is complicated. It has unique demands, and a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work. Our MobileTraceability app allows us to be as flexible as you need us to be and to deliver granular visibility anywhere your supply chains goes. Contact us today to learn more about what the app can do for you.