In order for Americans to safely enjoy domestically grown fruits and vegetables, it’s important for those responsible for growing, distributing, and shipping fresh produce to have total visibility into their supply chain. And while we’ve come a long way in that regard in recent years, the reality is that traceability can always be improved. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at why it’s so vital to fix your fresh produce traceability and how to best accomplish those aims.
Why is Fresh Produce Traceability So Important?
First, let’s talk about what food traceability is and why the traceability of fresh produce is essential industry-wide. Traceability is defined as the ability to follow or track products throughout the supply chain. In the case of fresh fruits and vegetables, traceability is often achieved through unique letter-and-number coding systems. In theory, every grower would be able to trace the produce back to the specific field from which it came and forward to the eventual buyer (which is often the distributor). Distributors, in turn, need to be able to trace their produce to the shipper and then to the store or final seller before being purchased by the consumer.
Traceability is key in virtually every industry, but it’s especially so for those working in agriculture. Today’s consumers want to know where their food is coming from so they can make socially and environmentally conscious decisions about which businesses they support. When you have access to impressive traceability systems, you can provide that information as a selling point. You might have already invested in labor management systems for some of these same reasons.
But in many cases, traceability comes into play during food recalls or reports of foodborne illness. According to FDA data, most instances of food contamination that resulted in foodborne illnesses between 1996 and 2010 likely occurred during the growing, harvesting, packing, holding, or transportation processes. If a fresh produce item becomes contaminated, traceability will allow for the protection of consumer health while minimizing potential losses for growers, shippers, and distributors. If your traceability is sound, you won’t have to recall an entire lot of goods; instead, you can identify which products are affected, where they’re currently being sold, and potentially recall them with greater accuracy. Essentially, superior traceability can prioritize public health and the health of your business.
How Can Growers, Distributors, and Shippers Improve Their Fresh Produce Traceability?
Ultimately, one of the best ways to improve fresh produce traceability is by utilizing supply chain management software. Supply chain management software vendors understand the struggle many growers, distributors, and shippers face when keeping up with various aspects of the fulfillment process. But rather than relying on outdated methods of traceability and subsequently risk damage to your brand or customers, it’s best to let supply chain management software do the work. You can easily transition from a paper system to a digital one, allowing your organization to adopt the cutting-edge technology to protect your brand, your vendors, and your end customers.
If you want to remain compliant, increase efficiency, gain peace of mind, and reduce frustrations, you’ll want to focus more heavily on traceability in 2020. Our supply chain management software can help you accomplish that goal. To get started or for more information, please contact us now!