GS1 Conference Stresses Value of Supply Chain Transparency

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The overwhelming amount of data available and its implications for foodservice was fodder for discussion yesterday during GS1 Canada’s “A Vision for the Future” event, which examined the market trends leading to the proliferation of data and its impact on the supply chain.

Speaking to 200 operators, manufacturers and suppliers, marketing consultant Max Valiquette kicked off the conference by examining trends and their influence on the foodservice market. Most importantly, the millennial crowd is driving data and digital engagement, such as My Starbucks Idea, a site where consumers can submit ideas for new products and services. Meanwhile, new technologies, such as 3-D printers, may soon be used to “print” desserts for consumption. And, kitchen appliances such as a walk-in fridge will communicate with the ordering system through the cloud when food needs to be replenished.

Meanwhile, consumers are demanding transparency from companies and the products they offer. “We will expect to know everything about the food’s origin before we eat it,” Valiquette summed up.

Knowing the origin of a product and product accuracy is the backbone of GS1’s ECCnet, a centralized, user-driven registry of product information available to trading partners, which lists bilingual product attributes, metric and product packaging information as well as marketing and nutritional data.

“The demand for data is overwhelming,” said Art Smith, president and CEO of GS1 Canada, who explained the power of mobile devices and their impact on purchasing. “Down to gluten notifiers and calorie counts, many restaurant chains are responding to consumer demands,” he said. But the quality of data is poor, he added, referencing a recent GS1 study that found 91 per cent of mobile bar code scans returned incorrect product information, while 87 per cent returned no image. That’s why there’s a need for increased awareness about the ECCnet centralized system, which stores product information about the supply chain, health and wellness, food safety and sustainability.

Later, Garth Whyte, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, invited a panel of distributors, operators and more to share the benefits of being part of the ECCnet registry, especially given recent trends regarding allergen information. “Are you more likely to order a product with a picture and a complete description than one without?” Dan Flanagan, president and CEO of Flanagan Foodservice, asked the crowd. And images aside, he explained that his company has access to more accurate product information, which leads to fewer debit notes and charge-backs.
Standardization leads to better data integrity, Randy White, president and CEO of Sysco Canada summed up. “We do not believe having random data and information in a silo will facilitate what seems to be emerging very quickly around the electronic revolution.”

GS1 Canada is a Toronto-based not-for-profit association that offers its subscribers solutions to streamline their operation through the use of electronic supply chain best practices.

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