Why is Food Traceability the Solution?
Food traceability is no fad – it’s going to be around for a long time. With recent technological advances, big-name companies are throwing resources into developing reliable ways to trace food through the supply chain. In 2016 IBM announced that they were partnering with 10 food giants including Wal-Mart, Unilever, Nestle, and Dole to use blockchain technology to create a transparent supply chain, and they’re currently testing this out on mangosand pork. For businesses, food traceability means less concerns about safety recalls and higher efficiency for their business.
Traceability isn’t just good for big business – small food producers can benefit, too. By using traceability to increase transparency for consumers purchasing their products, producers can build brand loyalty, connect more closely with their customers, and get better information on how their products are performing.
Food traceability can ease the minds of consumers, too. Shoppers picking up a product at the market and wondering “is this product fresh?” or “are these eggs really what I think they are?” could simply scan a code on the packaging and see the path the product took – from the farm to their table.
Transparency and Seeing the Future
The U.S. government agrees that transparency is the way to go, too – the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, one of the biggest sweeping acts of reform to hit U.S. food safety laws in years, will require food businesses to take accountability to prevent food safety issues.
Most food products will be required to be accompanied by Food Safety and Food Defense plans, detailing (among other things) how food safety concerns should be addressed for the product. It also includes traceability recommendations for businesses and requires the FDA to conduct pilot tests on food traceability for new regulations down the line. Food businesses have to be compliant with the new laws between 2018-2022, with more to come.
In the very near future, the government and consumers will demand transparency. While creating transparency and traceability in the food supply chain won’t fix every problem the food industry has, it will tackle a lot of them – from rapidly dropping consumer trust to the growing frequency and cost of food recalls and food fraud.
When companies are forced to be transparent, consumers will have the autonomy to vote with their wallets, using the power of capitalism to shake out the bad apples (and eggs) from the good.