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Implementing traceability systems puts food companies in a better position to navigate the changing regulatory landscape, build consumer trust and contribute to a sustainable food system.
A combination of changing consumer preferences and emerging regulation means
that restaurant and grocery businesses are facing mounting pressure to disclose
where their products originate. At the same time, more businesses are realizing
that end-to-end traceability is central to advancing food safety, quality and
The EU’s rules — known as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting
— will come into play in January 2024, requiring big companies operating in the
EU to disclose new information about environmental and social risks. This will
include data that makes it possible to trace products from raw materials to
final form. In the US, new Food and Drug
rules on food traceability will come into force in January 2026 — including
tighter record-keeping protocols to enable produce such as fish, cheese, fruit
and vegetables to be tracked.
These upcoming legislations coincide with changing consumer attitudes and
habits. Younger generations prefer businesses that are more ethical and
environmentally conscious — demanding they enshrine values and ethics, not just
profit, into their business model. A recent study by Avery
of 7,500 shoppers globally found that 44 percent of food shoppers believe
transparency about a product's origins and journey is important and over a third
(37 percent) say that when brands are transparent about ingredients in their
food products, it encourages them to make more sustainable purchases.
Implementing traceability systems will put food companies in a better position
to navigate the changing regulatory landscape, build consumer trust and
contribute to a sustainable food system.
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Food companies are improving visibility with digital solutions connected to
their products. This includes a powerful combination of data carriers (such as
QR codes and radio frequency identification [RFID]), a connected product
cloud-based platform to manage the data generated by the myriad of interactions
with those data carriers throughout the product’s lifecycle, and hardware and
applications used for data capture across the variety of read points throughout
the supply chain. The rapid capture of key information about thousands of items
or multiple crates and cartons allows for better tracking and management of the
supply chain, providing companies with a greater understanding and control —
from farm to consumer. By integrating food traceability systems into their
operations, companies can identify the exact source of their ingredients, which
is essential for ensuring that they are sustainably sourced. Furthermore,
providing an easily shareable record of provenance, processing and transit
information will help retailers and food brands to reduce the risk of food-borne
illness outbreaks by allowing for quick and effective product recalls.
uses digital connectivity to help ensure food freshness and quality. As an
end-to-end solution driven by intelligent labels inlaid with RFID technology,
item-level data-capturing solves the issues of inventory visibility, food waste,
labor efficiency, and consumer impact.
became one of the first restaurant companies to pilot Avery Dennison RFID
solutions to trace ingredients at its distribution center and approximately 200
restaurants in the Chicago area. The initiative is now scaling up, with
plans to roll it out nationally in the coming months. The tech-enabled
traceability system is designed to allow the company to act on food safety and
quality concerns swiftly, efficiently and precisely.
Item-level visibility on dates also helps to ensure a high level of freshness.
For products with strict use-by-date rules — such as fruits and vegetables,
bakery, fish and meat — it's important to have visibility into when the produce
has been shipped from the source, received at the supermarket, and so on. This
360-degree view of inventory at any given time helps to effectively manage
sell-by dates on perishable goods. Retailers can strike a balance between stock
that can be redistributed, stock that can effectively be marked down, and stock
that isn’t safe to sell. Discounting soon-to-expire products will not only help
to recoup revenue loss but also reduce food
as a large portion of food waste happens at store level when unsold products are
discarded because of expiry
Increasing transparency in food production will have great sustainability
benefits. Digital IDs help to provide consumers with detailed information about
the origin and production of their food, allowing them to make more informed
choices about what they eat. Consumers can see if the food is sourced from local
farms or grown using sustainable
This increased transparency not only empowers consumers to make more conscious
choices but also creates a demand for sustainable food production practices.
Avery Dennison hsa partnered with the Boisset
Collection, one of the world’s leading
family-owned fine wine companies. By leveraging Avery Dennison's NFC
(Near-Field Communication)-enabled tagging solution within their wine
labels, wine connoisseurs can simply tap their smartphone on the label to find
out more about the wine — including ingredients origin, tasting notes and a
personalized message from creator Jean-Charles Boisset.
Traceability systems can help to reduce food waste and improve overall
sustainability by enabling more efficient management of inventory and reducing
the likelihood of overproduction. Avery Dennison research found that stock
inefficiencies and inventory ‘black holes’ are resulting in nearly 10 percent of
food stock being lost before it even gets to the consumer. This supply chain
waste is caused by 7.1 percent which is damaged or perished and 2.9 percent
which is overproduced.
One of the key benefits of traceability in the food supply chain is that it
allows companies to manage inventory more effectively so they can better predict
demand and adjust their production and distribution, reducing the risk of food
spoilage and waste. For example, digital IDs can help to identify products that
are approaching their expiration
date, allowing companies to
prioritize those products for sale or distribution. Additionally, companies can
identify products that are overstocked, allowing them to adjust production or
distribution to prevent overproduction and further waste.
The atma.io platform — which enables products to
by turning them into digital communication channels — is currently used by four
of the top 10 quick-service restaurants. Services include a Real-time Waste
Elimination Tool that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to
analyze and highlight anomalies and inefficiencies across the supply chain. This
includes information about the overdue movement of products at a pallet level,
or even isolated individual items within a warehouse that are close to perishing
or otherwise ‘lost’ — enabling businesses to get meaningful insights from data
to make informed decisions that can dramatically transform their business
agility and reduce waste.
For more information on how digital identification solutions are transforming the food industry, click here.
Published Oct 3, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.