Dispatches from GFSI 2017 in Houston

Trace One urges firms to focus on the basics

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Shaun Bossons at GFSI in Houston, Texas
Shaun Bossons at GFSI in Houston, Texas
Transparency and traceability are important but first firms must get the basics right, according to Trace One.

Shaun Bossons, chief revenue officer, said transparency and traceability are very important in retail and food safety but if you are not getting the basics right, such as capturing the information of a product, how can you do the rest.

“So it’s great you can go farm to fork, it is very challenging and difficult, but just get the basics right and actually have a specification behind each product, make sure it is accurate, make sure the information is correct, so you can actually use it and that will take care of your consumers,” ​he told FoodQualityNews at the Global Food Safety Conference in Houston, Texas.

“Almost half of recalls in the US are because the information from the product spec was incorrectly printed on the label.

“The product is fine but they have been recalled because they didn’t get the process right. So get the basics right, get the process right, before you worry about Big Data and the Internet of Things and transparency and traceability.”

Transparency-One was spun-off from Trace One, the private label product lifecycle management (PLM) software experts, in 2016.

SGS acquired a 20% stake in the supply chain risk management platform at the same time.

Trace One was acquired by HgCapital in early 2016.

Impact of social media

Bossons said private label used to be a no-thrills product but has become premium in some cases.

“All the retailers are saying the same thing; everyone can sell Pepsi and Lay’s potato chips, only you can sell your private label. So now premium private label is starting to grow. If you go to Tesco they have a bottle of vodka designed by a London Arts agency and it is better than any vodka you see,” ​he said.

“Waitrose realised a year or so ago some of their carrots were bent and out of shape. So typically, you talk about food safety, they would throw them away or sell them off somewhere else.

“They now sell them in bags called Imperfects and they were one of the biggest selling private label products in the UK. So people are thinking about private label very differently now.” 

Bossons said the social media age can lead to issues, citing one example where a supplier of baby powder had a major recall six years ago.

“Something-like 3,000 people talked about it, five years later someone saw it online, thought it was recent, shared it in a maternity group and 365,000 shared that.

“So all of a sudden this company thought: six years ago everybody’s forgotten now and it has come back even worse. So when you logged onto their website there was a pop-up that said this happened six years ago.”

Supply chain information

Trace-One focuses on private label management. It enables retailers and suppliers to collaborate through the process of developing and maintaining a private label product.

The big benefit is they can respond to recalls much quicker, ​said Bossons.

“So if they see an issue with grapefruits from a certain area of the world they can search that data within seconds and identify which products could be impacted,” ​he said.

“Once they know which products, they know which supplier and can communicate with that supplier to find out if there is a risk and if there is they can react to a recall quickly. Or they can be proactive and start to search the information to see how much of their business is at risk.

“A good example would be the UK embargo with Russia, they can see which products are sourced from Russia and can speak to those suppliers to find alternative sourcing.”

The driving factors in the segment have changed a lot, said Bossons.

“It is evolving more and more and a lot of that is because of the consumer. Maybe ten years ago a consumer would walk into a store and they would buy a product,” ​he said.

“Now they walk in, they check the label, they read it, they want to know about the impact on the environment, they want to know is it safe for them and their family, especially now that Millennials are the number one buying power in the US, for example.

“So because of that, retailers now know if they want to put private label products on the shelf they have to be just as good as a national brand if not better, which means they need this information so they can make sure the consumer gets what they need.”     

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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