Between stricter FDA regulations regarding food product safety and increased consumer demand for product transparency, food companies small and large need to prioritize food traceability in their day-to-day operations.
Yet, despite these factors pushing the food industry toward greater supply chain visibility and transparency, there still exists uncertainty about the true value and ROI of the time, labor, and resources that must feed into food traceability efforts. Is the ability to identify a single product on a complex supply chain really that important?
Put simply, yes. Food traceability is more important now than ever before. Below, we break down four food traceability myths and provide insight into the growing demand – and need – for supply chain visibility and traceability.
Myth 1: Traceability is only important to food companies.
Fact: Today’s consumers are placing increased value on sustainability, ethical sourcing, and transparency. They are not just looking for healthy foods, but they are purchasing from brands that can provide exact information about the ingredients, sourcing, and ecological impact of those foods, too.
One study shows that approximately 72% of consumers find transparency to be “important” or “extremely” important in their purchasing decision, and they are more likely to buy from companies that are transparent about their ingredients and supply chains. This means that food companies must have strategies and processes in place that enable them to trace products at any point in their supply chain – not just to ensure regulatory compliance, but to meet the consumer need for true product traceability, too.
Myth 2: Traceability is just a suggestion, not a requirement.
Fact: Food traceability regulations – as mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – can be traced back to the early 2000s, when one-up, one-back recordkeeping was used to link food products throughout each point in the supply chain. In 2011, President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), encouraging a more proactive regulation on food safety (yes, including traceability!).
And, most recently, the FDA released its final guidance on FSMA 204: The Traceability Rule, which establishes additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for foods on the Food Traceability List. As a result of these regulations, companies that grow, produce, pack, hold, important, and transport foods in the U.S. are required to incorporate these traceability standards into their operations.
Myth 3: Food product recalls continue to increase, so traceability efforts don't matter.
Fact: It’s not that food was never contaminated in the past or that somehow food quality has faltered; rather, because of stricter regulations and more proactive approaches to food safety, companies have become more in-tune with identifying risks and keeping consumers safe. This, inevitably, has resulted in the reporting of more food product recalls in the past 10 years, and it is a testament to the importance of solid food traceability efforts that enable companies to act quickly and efficiently. Food companies need to have robust food traceability software solutions in place to help minimize the impact of food product recalls when (not if) they occur.
Myth 4: Food traceability software is expensive.
Fact: When you think about the average food recall costing your brand anywhere from $2-$10 million, it is hard to argue that investing time and resources into an effective food traceability system is “expensive.” While a food traceability system is quite an investment for your company, having the right solution in place to help your company act swiftly and precisely to track and trace a contaminated product’s exact location on the supply chain can help save you significant time, money, and headache in the long run.
Consumers’ growing demand for transparency, evolving regulatory requirements, and an increasingly complex global supply chain are all contributing to the food industry’s need for supply chain transparency with end-to-end traceability. The need to invest in robust food traceability software is not a baseless claim; rather, it is table stakes for food companies looking to ensure compliance, maintain consumer trust, and remain profitable in today’s environment.
If you are looking for guidance about the right food traceability solution for your business, contact our experts today.