In this uncertain and unprotected environment, consumers are questioning the authenticity of products more often. This is understandable as many counterfeiting activities are happening around us despite the relentless efforts of brand manufacturers and marketers to serve customers with authentic products.
Traceability has also become increasingly important due to the massive consumption of products by the world's population. The global food supply chain has evolved as companies seek to enhance their capabilities to feed the world's growing population and provide the best.
Food and beverage supply chain
With the supply chain getting increasingly complex, manufacturers and retailers of food and beverage need to bring things up to speed to make sure they do not lag behind their competitors. This is also necessary as an inefficient supply chain without transparency and traceability poses a significant risk to human lives. The food and beverages industry cannot bear to be just 'okay', especially with huge competition around them.
A proper traceability technology provides tools to the food and beverage businesses to digitize, standardize, and leverage the supply chain's valuable data to provide safe and authentic products to customers. There is growing awareness among producers and consumers regarding products' safety and sanctity, leading to better traceability options to prevent any mishap.
New age consumers want to know all about the products they are consuming. They are constantly demanding improved traceability and are keen to know about the storage of their favorite food besides sourcing details. Things are not different for manufacturers who now realize the role of robust traceability systems in reducing cost and increasing profit, thereby enabling them to stay ahead of the competition.
Traceability - Why is it important?
Consumers often complain that they receive fake products with the label of the brand or the quality of the food item is not up to the mark as promised by the brand. This is due to the inefficient supply chain that spoils the customer journey, which starts long before the product is delivered. Such experiences crush customer experience, creates doubts about the manufacturer in their minds besides tarnishing the brand's image.
According to reports, more than 30% of people face health problems because of counterfeit food and beverage items. This can be attributed to counterfeit products and inefficient supply chains failing to ensure transparency and traceability, putting the consumers' health at risk and threatening the reputation of the global food industry.
This can have a devastating consequence on customer loyalty, company revenue, and the brand's reputation, thereby negatively impacting the income of the food or beverage grower, producer, manufacturer, processor, and retailer.
Robust supply chain management enabled expert advice, serialization, aggregation, and disruptive technologies such as blockchain. Artificial intelligence is the way to ensure end-to-end traceability in the food and beverage supply chain. It can help to manage recalls faster and efficiently, prevent major outbreaks besides enabling quick identification of the source of contamination.
This is not all. It can also help in gaining real-time, actionable insights to take immediate corrective measures. Also, the supply chain management team can help to mitigate recall costs and the impact by knowing the real-time location, status, and flow of products in the supply chain from raw material to end supply.
Food traceability is crucial than recalls
Food safety problems have been rare and minimal, but now they are increasing as counterfeit food items have become a lucrative source for making easy money for fraudulent people.
When food problems or contamination occur or happen, time is of the essence as the consumer's health is at stake besides the livelihoods of industries, companies, and employees.
The traceability process helps in understanding and implementing the ways to track and trace the paths of products through the food chain. The process further improves food safety and security to avoid or mitigate the risk of the health hazards of the public or the economic impacts brought by counterfeit products.
Food traceability is more crucial than recalls as the management can ascertain the origin of products, ingredients from where they are being supplied - from the farm through food processing to retail, the foodservice, and the consumer.
In conclusion, public health concerns are demanding traceability, but it will be the business economic drivers that will sustain it.
Sanjay Kaushik is managing director at Netrika Consulting