A trace of common sense

    In the middle of a pandemic, product traceability is arguably more important than ever.

    By Peter Howard.

    Companies running supply chains, particularly those with multi-tier supply chains, such as supermarkets, consider supply chain transparency a high priority. For some, it’s part of a strategy to build customer loyalty and competitive advantage, while others are pursuing different goals. Whatever their purpose, all companies understand supply chain transparency is an enabler for improved visibility, more effective traceability and greater agility in volatile times – such as a pandemic.

    This radical change in thinking is the result of various factors. There have been technological advances, increased pressure from governments, consumers and other stakeholders wanting to know more about their own particular area of interest, and Covid-19 has put supply chains firmly under the microscope with the very real threat of essential-supply shortages.

    For example:

    • Changes in regulations have raised awareness, triggered increased due diligence and revealed a need for improved supply chain reporting.
    • The rise in counterfeit products has driven a need for improved visibility throughout the supply chain to ensure authentic product provenance.
    • The drive for efficiency and cost saving created a need for more sharing of information among partner organisations and stakeholders.
    • Consumers are demanding transparency regarding food origins, methods of cultivation and production, sustainability and slave labour.
    • The appearance of a pandemic brought about unusual supply chain patterns, including the ACCC approval of cross-company collaboration.
    • Globalisation of supply chains has increased the threat of disease transmission and bio-contamination, with regulation and effective traceability key elements in the response mechanism.

    In the middle of a pandemic, product traceability is arguably more important than ever. Companies are facing pressure to improve visibility in complex multi-tier supply chains, and the recent increased demand for supply chain traceability has prompted both industry and governments to initiate projects and pilots across many sectors.

    In response to industry concern that some of these initiatives may lead to duplication and the creation of multiple frameworks, GS1 Australia, the leading provider of standards and solutions for more than 20 industry sectors, has launched an advisory group dedicated to the issue of supply chain traceability.

    With GS1 barcodes being scanned more than six billion times every day and a specific set of GS1 standards already used by the foodservice industry for traceability, the company is certainly well placed to lead that discussion.

    To read the full feature in Convenience World November/December issue, click here.

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