technology                                                                                     the retailers. For countrie...
technologyscenario for food products which can          When it comes to the actual              developing standardised i...
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Traceability in food retailing


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Thoughts and directions on improving traceability in food retailing. Taking a process oriented approach and leveraging technology practically would be an optimal approach in progressive countries such as India.

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Traceability in food retailing

  1. 1. technology the retailers. For countries where these products are not produced, it is possible that the different supply chain levels are accomplished in different countries. The origins of these products are in farms and rearing sites that are fragmented into organised and unorganised segments. From there, the products are handled by multiple intermediates during aggregation, transportation, processing and storage, resulting in a complex web of producers and intermediaries. The products mostly enter into the retailer’s control at collection centres directly from farmers or product aggregators. Stock from the collection centres can be further aggregated at city processing or distribution centres. Food being the perishable item, the supply chain management in food retail business is the mostTraceability in Food Retailing: vulnerable to risk factors. Let’s explore how technology can help the food retailers in significantlyA Buffet of Options improving their supply chain across different levels By Shijo Sunny Thomas Recent incidents in Europe have They could just change the labels to Products also come into the retailer’sonce again brought into light, the indicate that instead of 100 percent of inventory at the city processingcomplex and global nature of the any other meat, the product has “x” centres directly from the supply chain. Retailers being at percentage of horsemeat. Technically Retailers will have stringent qualitythe customer frontline are obviously yes, but in the context of food safety standards and product attributessusceptible to taking a hit on their this incident poses a very serious which are enforced at the collectionbrand reputation due to oversight at problem. The original product had centres or at the supplier locations.upper echelons of the supply chain. been adulterated with a cheaper This ensures that the retailer is able It will be time till European horsemeat whose source of origin to fulfill the promise of freshness andretailers start betting on horses again. has not been accounted for. There are quality to its customers. Suppliers,The manner in which horsemeat cases when the horses are injected aggregators and producers are alsohas trotted into the dinner tables with substances prohibited for human well aware of the product standardsof European households has left consumption and if these pose a grave that have to be complied with in ordergovernments, retailers and consumers risk if it enters the human food chain. to work with a particular retailer.fuming. The predicament here is And that is just two of the many It is indeed a complex proposition tonot that horsemeat is being sold in problems that European retailers are manage the inflow of a wide varietyretail outlets, something which our grappling with today. of food products into the retail supplyIndian readers would find it hard to The larger context of the issue here chain. These products come frombelieve. The problem is that other is that the food retail supply chain, a number of sources and suppliers.meat products on retail shelves had be it vegetables or meat products, Considering these factors, maintainingtraces of horsemeat in them. In is very vulnerable and susceptible specifications, tracking and traceabilitysome cases, it was to the extent of to risk factors beyond the retailer’s of food products is of the highest30 percent. Oh, then it is just a food visibility. The supply chain often runs priorities for a retailer who stocks foodlabelling problem, you may think. four or five levels deep back from products. This could be a manageable2 . images retail . April 2013
  2. 2. technologyscenario for food products which can When it comes to the actual developing standardised industrybe retailed with minimum or negligible implementation of technology, there approach, processes and guidelinesprocessing or value addition, such as are a plethora of options at each point related to produce traceability. Thein the case of fruits and vegetables. For of automation. There are hardware methods advocated by PTI andthose food products that are processed, devices to capture information at the practiced globally use GS1 standards.ingredients from multiple sources points of procurement, transportation, GS1 standards have various facetsare used. The individual ingredients storage, shelving and sale. The that can be leveraged to identify thein processed food would often lose tags used to store the products and the locations fromtheir traceability with each step of information can range which the products have originated.processing. Retailers use effective from barcodes to RFID It also provides for methods tobatch and lot control mechanisms to tags. Even the barcodes encode the data at all levels ofmaintain a record of the stock that is have different standards procurement and processing,being used in the processing. and usages based on the thereby arming retailers It is highly necessary for retailers information that is required with processing statuses andto audit their entire food value to be tagged. The processes location information of allchain covering activities such as driven by these devices and products within the chain.procurement, transportation, storage, tags need to be woven together Technology is a highlyprocessing and sales. Managing by software applications which reliable enabler forreturns of food products will also apply various rules specific retailers looking atneed to be audited, which covers to the nature of the product, gaining control on theirsupplier and customer returns, if that locations, storage mechanism food and beverageis a practice followed by retailers.Processes that are followed fordiscarding damaged or expired foodproducts should also receive adequateattention during the audit process.Through this audit process, retailerscan immediately identify gaps orpoints of vulnerability within theirfood supply chain. The audit processwill also highlight opportunities for It is highly necessary for retailers to audit theirretailers to identify areas of data entire food value chain covering activities such ascapture, product labelling and process procurement, transportation, storage, processing andimprovements. sales The business case andimplementation of technology andinformation systems in the retail food and various other parameters. value chain. The food processingchain should be looked at from multiple There will also be other applications and logistics segment in Indiafacets. Practicality and feasibility is in the integrated solution that track is set to receive a huge boost inone of the key elements that should the movement of the products terms of investments both frombe considered. The extent and level within the supply chain. These the government and the privateof technology feasibility at the point applications will also perform the sector. This will result in significantof origin will always be one of the task of generating alerts when there improvements at all levels of theimportant factors in emerging countries is a breach of ambience that has been food supply chain. It is obvious thatsuch as India. This is due to the stipulated for the specific food product information systems will be a keyunorganised entities that exist at the or storage locations. Extensions to catalyst to the modernisation efforts.point of origin. Other considerations are these applications can also be made Bon appétit!the availability of modern supply chain available to logistics partners andinfrastructure that is employed during suppliers. In the event of any mishap,storage, handling and transportation. contamination or hazard identification,Skill level of the human resources is the applications can rapidly provide a ABOUT THE AUTHORalso a consideration. The methods product supply chain snapshot which Shijo Sunny Thomas is theand investments used to bring about a helps take appropriate decisions on industry lead for Retail & CPGreliable and accurate traceability within product recalls and quarantine. at Fujitsu Consulting India. Hethe retail chain will also depend on One of the largest organised has worked closely with retailersthe availability of integrated solutions initiatives that have launched in the in India to conceptualise andtailored for the local market and world is the Produce Traceability deliver technology solutionsconditions. Initiative (PTI) which aims at relevant to local needs. April 2013 . images retail . 3