According to Europol’s latest Opson IX report on food fraud activity, 12,000 illicit food products were seized with approximately $40 million in retail value. It reports that 19 organized crime groups were disrupted, and 27,579 inspections were conducted. About two million liters of fake or sub-standard drinks and 2,000 tons of fraudulent fruit and vegetables were seized.
Aside from food fraud, there is an emerging trend of consumers demanding access to much more data surrounding the sources of raw materials that make up their foods and whether those materials are produced sustainably.
These developments drive requirements for greater product insights all along the food and beverage supply chain. We refer to this as end-to-end traceability and transparency, a holistic supply chain vision that captures and analyses data from different sources and stakeholders. It allows us to track products as they move along the supply chain, e.g., tracing suppliers and locations and providing complete transparency and visibility into all information related to a product’s origin, ingredients, allergens, and physical characteristics.
From the consumer standpoint, product origin, ethical trading, and animal welfare are integral to purchasing decisions. These factors are making responsible sourcing increasingly important. At the corporate level, a growing number of indexes and standards convey this, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which allows investors to link sustainability to valuation. The final factor driving increased supply chain visibility is regulations that are becoming more complex and stricter, such as the FDA’s Food Safety 2.0, individual country import regulations, and an in-development product recall standard for product recall by GS1 (a global standard for encoding information produced by the F&B industry such as product codes, ingredients, additives, consumer information, composition, allergens, and more).
Developing a digital passport
Overcoming the challenges of end-to-end traceability requires a solution to build an electronic passport of the product from farm to fork.
- The upstream process would collect all the ingredient information, relevant certificates, and map suppliers to the lowest level of hierarchy like individual farmers.
- For midstream, at the processing plant, it would record the entire production process, including processing, cleaning, and packaging.
- The cycle would follow the product along the supply chain from warehouses to distributors, to retailers to the end customer downstream. To deliver a complete end-to-end traceability model with an electronic passport, data is required from all along the supply chain.
Upstream at the source of the food stock, you need an origin module to capture data on the raw materials and link each product with the ingredient’s information. This will include data sources such as complete supplier mapping to the lowest level, quality results, certificates, and results from sample tests. When you capture this upstream raw material information, you need real-time data also. How much milk is there in each of my dairy collection centers? What is the temperature? What are the pH values? How is it maintained? All this data must be collected remotely. It is the same for a livestock or cereal farm, although the collection parameters may differ with data sources such as soil condition, animal feed, and fertilizer use. This information should be handled by a system that can monitor, maintain, and improve your production output. AVEVA Insight, for example, through an IIOT architecture, is just such a solution from our partner AVEVA that allows the capture of real-time parameters at different locations.
We need to know which material from which lot has been used for every production order. Then, when the product comes into the plant, we need to ensure that we have all the information related to how the raw materials are transformed into a finished product. This includes full traceability and materials genealogy.
As an example of pulling all these systems together and avoiding silos, we would use our EcoStruxure solutions to manage the production environment and ProLeiT’s process control system Plant iT to effectively transform the raw material into the finished product.
For downstream traceability, our EcoStruxure Traceability Advisor Track and Trace module allocates a unique serial number to each product where it can be traced along the entire food and beverage supply chain and to each carton and the pallet and defines their relationship. When the product is dispatched from the plant, we need full traceability with the solutions for serialization and track and trace.
It is all about the data
Finally, when it goes to the consumer, they need all the data about the product in a digital format. Nearly two-thirds of grocery shoppers would switch to brands that disclose more than just ingredient and nutritional information. For that, the producer must combine all the information related to the product in a digital format at one location. The data must be transferred in a common format defined by standards from supply chain regulators to any retailer selling the product.
If a chocolate bar is produced by a confectionary manufacturer and sold to two different supermarket chains, both retailers need to get the same information about the product. Our Product Information Management (PIM) solution centralizes all end-product data and makes it available to stakeholders internally and externally, from e-commerce platforms to stores. PIM system data is constantly updated to comply with GS1. PIM provides a framework for ensuring that the hand-off from one supplier to the next is traceable and trackable as it moves through the supply chain. It also assures that product data can be standardized, centralized, and distributed with complete security.
Want to learn more about the Food & Beverage demo?
Schneider Electric has an innovative hands-on demonstrator to provide you with a greater understanding of the unique technologies from Schneider Electric, AVEVA, and ProLeiT and how they seamlessly integrate to offer a comprehensive farm to fork solution for food and beverage producers. Interested in learning more or seeing a demo?