Just about two weeks ago, this author had the opportunity to be the opening speaker at the Intesource 2015 Innovation Best practices in Sourcing Conference held in Las Vegas. Intesource’s customers generally reside within various tiers of food and beverage supply chains either as retailers, wholesalers or restaurant services providers. Besides addressing significant converging industry, IT and people skill megatrends impacting supply chains, I also addressed the needs for greater levels of multi-tiered visibility and transparency across food supply chains. Consumers now demand quality choices in the food they consume and branded products can no longer stand on just presence but on the composition of the products offered and served by the brand.
I was therefore pleased to read in the Wall Street Journal CIO Blog (paid subscription or complimentary metered viewing) that Bumble Bee Seafoods is planning to launch a website that allows consumers to trace the origins of their tuna utilizing specific codes printed on cans. Information will reportedly consist of where and how the fish was caught and by which fisheries. According to this report, much of the data for this traceability initiative already exists in the company’s procurement and supply chain systems.
The same article makes note that Whole Foods has technology projects underway to provide shoppers with information such as animal welfare ratings, whether a food contains genetically modified products (GMP’s) or modified ingredients.
These are just two examples of how consumers are fundamentally changing the product demand and consumption dynamics of food and beverage supply chains. On Supply Chain Matters, we have called attention to the next wave of smarter item-level tagging that not only traces product identity and movement but monitors the state, genealogy and condition of products. More discerning and informed consumers who are increasing health conscious continue to elicit greater levels of visibility and smart sourcing and sustainability of animal, farm, fishery and food products. I certainly look forward to utilizing such applications when they become available and I suspect that I will not be alone in that effort.
Sourcing and procurement professionals as well as brand and product management teams must continue to be on the forefront of these advanced technology efforts.