Industry Perspective: Grow Your Labeling Business With Food Traceability
By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.
New food safety regulations will drive bar code labeling business for produce, perishables.
Tracking produce and other perishable goods has been emerging as a hot market for bar code labeling technology for several years. With the passage of the Bioterrorism Act in 2002 (which focused on food traceability) and several expensive, high-profile recalls, companies that handle perishable goods have been looking for ways to improve their track-and-trace capabilities.
"We've seen an increased interest in piloting and an increase in adoption via a number of our partners for perishable product traceability," says David Senerchia, director of new business development at Zebra Technologies. This activity has accelerated since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011.
The FDA and industry trade groups are piloting systems to test how traceability can be improved. These new applications will use bar code technology and will require labeling much earlier in the process, as well as require changes across the supply chain. VARs can benefit by following these pilot programs and developing products tailored to these environments. "The industry is now taking this more seriously and moving beyond pilots," Senerchia says. "They are adopting solutions in advance of pending legislative mandates."
The produce industry has been working on a traceability solution for several years. The produce traceability initiative, sponsored by GS1, the Produce Marketing Association, and the United Fresh Produce Association, was initiated to achieve supply chain wide adoption of electronic traceability for every case of produce by 2012. The group has launched a number of pilot projects with major produce commodities. However, other perishable categories (like meats, deli, baked goods, etc.) are not as far along, and their efforts have not been coordinated.