The importance of supply chain visibility in a pandemic era
It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has put a massive strain on the global food and farming industry, and has highlighted the importance of developing a better knowledge and understanding of operational challenges within supply chains and their ability to deal with these types of crisis.
Continuity of the supply is now top of the agenda for many, with demand being taken up to deal with the issues that a pandemic brings, whether that be operational, compliance or simply staff shortages. Improving the transparency of supply chains will help with better understanding of how risk can be managed and agility improved, without compromising food safety.
Good data is the foundation of quality information and when the supply chain works collaboratively to provide and share this, the result is improved transparency. We have seen so many times the devastation that happens when food safety issues occur, these have been evidenced by lack of transparency, with a resulting impact on consumer confidence and erosion of brand trust.
The industry has relied heavily upon formal auditing and certification, which only gives a snapshot on historical performance. Increasingly we are seeing a shift to real time validation on everyday compliance, made possible by the digitisation of operations throughout the supply. These compliance technologies, coupled with a lens on measuring performance product quality throughout the chain of custody (a good example being ‘cool chain’) is highlighting many issues that predisposes food waste, presenting an opportunity to address one of the core sustainability markers.
The sustainability revolution
Sustainability is no longer seen as just a ‘buzz’ word for companies to use in their brand values, or when marketing to customers. Time is up for those businesses that ‘green wash’ without any substance to back up their efforts. End-to-end initiatives such as the commonly used ‘farm to fork’, must demonstrate best management practices and exhibit these through measurement. The resulting data that flows from the farm upwards must show core elements of animal, social and environmental welfare operations are being upheld, if those claims are to be substantiated.
This capability will go a long way to address consumers desire for more information, on understanding where their food comes from and how it is produced. Their increased knowledge of nutritional values, free range products and perceived taste superiority, is putting increased pressure on suppliers to meet these demands, whilst ticking the box repeatedly on safety and quality.
Good data is vital to giving businesses a clear insight into areas of improvement, couple that with advances in AI and machine learning, we can start to address approaches such as input optimisation, maximising yield and production, increasing crop resilience, livestock production and improving nutritional value. All key economic drivers that benefit stakeholders and underpin long term continuity and security of supply.
Businesses that adopt new approaches to digitalise their supply chain with improved transparency, will be more agile in managing risk and be the future winners.
"Businesses that adopt new approaches to digitalise their supply chain with improved transparency, will be more agile in managing risk and be the future winners".Jonathan Evans, Managing Director, Muddy Boots