Pasture to plate – reliable, globally standardised traceability

Most often, folk associate the concept of traceability with product recall. Being a statutory requirement on suppliers of products, the ability to recall a product is clearly critical to consumer safety and regulatory compliance. The ability to manage a recall well, can often be a matter of life and death for the business. But having good traceability is much more than recall; it can provide a business with efficiency gains as well as the ability to deliver answers to the questions that consumers are increasingly asking such as: “Where did this come from?, “Is it good for me?” or, “What is it made from?”

 “Trading and the exchange of goods is based on trust, without it transactions cannot occur. New Zealand as a trading nation must operate at the highest levels of trust possible.” 

Chris Claridge, CEO of Potatoes NZ,
Founding Chair of Trust Alliance New Zealand

Traceability provides visibility to trading partners and consumers about the identification of any past or current location, the custody of an item, and knowledge of an item’s history. Traceability systems can:

  • Locate defective and unsafe food and non-food products such as pharmaceuticals and electrical items – so they can be removed promptly from shelves.
  • Validate the presence or absence of product attributes, such as organic farming methods, kosher foods, or non-allergenic cosmetics.
  • Assist with fighting product counterfeiting.
  • Provide reassurance to consumers about the provenance of what they are eating and the backstory. 

The GS1 New Zealand team has been involved with a diverse range of traceability infinitives in the last year. A multi-year programme with United Fresh (the peak body for the fresh produce industry in NZ) culminated in the publication of a practical guidance document for all producers1. GS1 standards were at the core of the traceability guidelines . Numerous other initiatives for individual members beefed up their approaches to traceability. GS1 was also involved in a consortium of organisations that founded Trust Alliance New Zealand – a trusted, digital network (based on Blockchain technologies) for New Zealand producers, growers, exporters, retailers & consumers to easily share trusted data.

Responding to increasing consumer demand for pasture to plate visibility is likely to become more prevalent as a marketing strategy for New Zealand producers – increasing the overall value proposition of ‘brand New Zealand’. Underpinning this with interoperable globally recognised GS1 standards seems to be a ‘no brainer’.