Companies in the food supply chain have new regulations to keep up with, as the Food and Drug Administration announced recently that antibiotics must be phased out as a growth enhancer for livestock. The deal between the antibiotic companies and the FDA will remove "growth-promotion" from products' labels, making it illegal to use them for that purpose, The New York Times reported.
While skeptics say farmers and ranches will likely still use the drugs and merely claim they are to prevent disease, consumer sentiment could push food producers to look for drug-free suppliers. As food provenance and a demand for more natural products has spiked among consumers, rules and regulations are not the only things that dictate how a company manufacturers its product.
If a company wishes to capitalize on new trends in nutrition by offering more naturally produced food, they must have the right tools to ensure production remains high. Data collection software that integrates with existing ERP systems can help a company analyze how drastic changes to a company's suppliers are impacting manufacturing.
Real-time data can reveal whether new suppliers are able to keep the same schedules that the old ones maintained. With automated data collection, supply chain managers can also track whether production in the warehouse has remained at similar levels since the change. Some changes may be very indirect and data on the efficiency of workers, inventory control and delivery schedules can all reveal unseen ways that supplier changes impact business.
Recalls Also Demand Better Technology
While consumer tastes can lead companies to discussions about changing suppliers, a recall demands immediate action. When the FDA issues a recall, the scope can be wide-ranging and the costs can be very high if done incorrectly. For instance, Parkers Farm Inc. is currently in the midst of a massive recall following a possible Listeria contamination, reported KKTV, CBS's Colorado Springs, Colo. affiliate.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said it found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in some samples and ordered a recall of all products with a sell-by date of March 20, 2015, or before. The products include peanut butter, dips, spreads and cheese. The items were sold under multiple brand names and at numerous stores. Tracking such a massive and wide-spread recall would be impossible with paper-based systems.
According to RFgen's white paper, "The Food Traceability Survival Guide," the costs of recalls following a bacterial contamination vary greatly and in some cases have topped $1 billion. A company in the food supply chain long enough will invariably experience a recall, and those unprepared for it could go out of business under the pressure.
Improved data collection can help track suppliers with a negative history of contamination, and most importantly help a company trace food that has already left manufacturing facilities and warehouses. While fines and penalties can be costly, the brand damage from even a single infection can be even more detrimental. Getting food off of the shelves and out of consumers' pantries in hours or days instead weeks is essential to a successful recall operation.