Run towards GS1 labelling standards, not away from it

18th April 2018 Written By Sophie Dell

Provenance is rising up the agenda, with most consumers preferring to buy locally-sourced produce and a growing number looking for “farm to fork” assurance.

Supermarkets and retailers are responding to this trend by recruiting more local suppliers – those within a 30-60 mile radius of the store – to reduce food miles and benefit local economies.

In parallel, there is growing regulatory pressure on supply chains to ensure food safety and rapid incident response, such as the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which sets a minimal recall standard of four hours.

This is driven by various factors, from the rise in food allergies (now thought to affect around 2% of adults and 5% of children) that result in hospitalisations due to cross-contamination, to contaminates to false ingredient declarations such as the infamous 2013 European food fraud horsemeat scandal.

In the pursuit of whole-chain traceability, produce needs to be able to be tracked and traced between trading partners, as well as within companies’ own span of operations. This has given rise to industry-led efforts such as the USA Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) to provide case-level electronic traceability. To fulfil requirements of this nature, the GS1 identification standards and barcodes were designed to create common ways of doing business, and make it quicker, easier and cheaper to trade.

Participation in GS1 may be voluntary, but it’s fast becoming a must-have to do business with certain companies, particularly retailers such as Walmart will only push more producers towards mandatory GS1 compliance. As consumers increasingly buy groceries and other perishable products online, they demand detailed visibility into these products at the point of purchase.

If you’re not already on board with GS1, adoption shouldn’t be a case of waiting until there’s no other option. Whether it’s a real-life or simulated product analysis and recall, you can’t afford to sift through data from a combination of proprietary internal systems, error-prone spreadsheets and paper-based processes, particularly given the speed at which products need to move nowadays.

Standardising on GS1 can help you tackle problem areas such as traceability, stock management, automated goods receipt and invoice discrepancies. And it’s an opportunity to become more competitive and responsive to trading partners, support retailers’ initiatives to reduce in-store food waste, and build brand loyalty.

Produmex provides full support for GS1 product identification standards and barcodes through the warehouse management system. This enables you to easily identify product and cases throughout your inbound, internal and outbound logistics processes and provides you with a consistent, end-to-end traceability record so that in the event of a food safety issue, such as a recall, you can take swift, precise action.

You can also capture extended information about products, including batch numbers, best before dates and shelf life information, which are key to developing a customer-centric picking strategy.

Developing your GS1 adoption programme

Batch traceability is a complex, multi-dimensional issue which touches multiple parts of your business. GS1 adoption isn’t simply a problem to solve with an IT system – it’s a methodology and a new way of addressing your marketplace.

That’s why Produmex also offers education and support to implement GS1 standards as a means of business transformation and share best practices for operational improvements.

We can also put together a training programme around how to interpret the GS1 guidelines and standards for your individual business and the steps you need to take to not only achieve compliance but create value for your customers.

Written by; Produmex