Like larger companies, smaller produce business owners should really start incorporating traceability. While ERP systems, like https://usesilo.com/products/lot-tracking-traceability, often offer produce businesses some level of traceability, most produce distributors are still unaware of what traceability is or why it’s important. In this article, we’re looking to change just that.
What is traceability?
Traceability is a term that can be used to represent a number of different things. Regardless of which type of traceability you’re referring to, its core concept remains the same—it’s the ability to identify the origins and progress of an entity. In the business world, this is usually applied to raw materials, ingredients, parts, or items utilized in the production process.
When used in the produce business, traceability often refers to supply chain traceability. This is what we will be discussing in this article. Supply chain traceability is the ability to identify and trace produce as it progresses through the supply chain. Identification and tracking starts from the supplier go to the distributor and end at the consumer.
Why is traceability important?
Traceability is important to businesses for several reasons. Firstly, you can identify and track the movement of products down the supply chain, making quality control and assurance efforts much easier. There’s also the benefit of being able to more efficiently employ damage control in the event of product contamination or spoilage.
And this is just the surface of the benefits you can enjoy by incorporating traceability into your fresh produce business. Below are two additional reasons to employ traceability practices in your fresh produce business.
1. It makes gathering data easier
With traceability making it easy to track every produced lot that goes through your business, right from the supplier all the way to the final consumer, you get the benefit of being able to gather extensive data. With such a detailed process, you can monitor the performance of your products and gather real-time data.
You can also easily identify which products are performing well in the market and which are not. You can determine which of your suppliers are providing the best quality goods and which ones aren’t being as forthright as they claim to be. Such real-time data can be very vital.
Furthermore, it makes handling recalls much easier. Recalls can be one of the most frustrating matters for businesses to handle. Imagine getting a call from one of your suppliers saying some of the produce provided in a recent batch is contaminated. Here, lot tracking would be of great assistance. If bad produce makes its way into the market, you can easily identify the product in question and halt it before it goes any further.
Imagine if you have already distributed some of those products to your supply chain. How would you be able to determine which of your vendors got which produce without proper tracking? With traceability practices like lot tracking, you don’t need to worry since you’ll know where each lot is coming from and where it has gone.
2. Improves risk management efforts
Since recalls are bound to happen and are a serious problem in the fresh produce industry, it’s important to be able to identify contaminated products and track down the source of this contamination quickly and in real-time. Supply chain traceability helps improve your quality control efforts in ways no other activity can.
It allows you to take action in times of crisis. For example, in the case of produce mix-up, you can easily trace where the error occurred and make adjustments quickly. In the case of bad produce making its way into the market, you can easily identify the product in question and halt it before it goes any further.
Despite the many benefits it has to offer the produce business, very few distributors fully incorporate this concept into their business. To be honest, it is easy to see why—traceability is hard. In fact, it can be quite challenging to do correctly. It takes discipline and commitment, not to mention a good deal of time, effort, and money to effectively do it.
That being said, hard doesn’t mean impossible, and there are a number of ways you can improve the supply chain traceability of your produce business. Below are a few tips to help you with this.
Tips to help improve your produce business’s supply chain traceability
Use lot tracking
Lot tracking is a system of inventory management that’s highly recommended for tracking raw materials through the production process. Large fresh produce distribution companies have also employed this system to track the movements of their products down the supply chain.
Lot tracking works in a fairly simple process. Produce received from distributors is labeled and recorded in lots. The progress of each lot (and the produce contained in them) is then tracked down the supply chain. This greatly simplifies the produce tracking process.
Use traceability technology
Another great way to improve your business’s supply chain traceability is the use of traceability solutions or software designed to improve tracking. These solutions help automate the process, further simplifying it.
As a produce distributor, the most effective traceability technology you can employ are those software solutions designed specifically for the fresh produce industry. ERP systems provide various solutions, giving you efficient produce tracking features that are easy to use and highly efficient at getting the job done.
Supply chain traceability is an important concept every fresh produce business should consider employing regardless of size. Doing this can help fresh produce distributors track the progress of their products along the supply chain and take necessary action should the need ever arise.
Unfortunately, employing traceability can be a bit hard. Employing systems like lot tracking, utilizing traceability technology, or integrating supply chain traceability solutions can greatly help facilitate this process.