Supply chain woes continue to wreak havoc on the food industry, raising concerns over food quality and safety, and placing a newfound emphasis on traceability systems.

Both retailers and food manufacturers are struggling with the ripple effects of the trade disruptions in the Black Sea region, fuel price shocks, and widespread port congestion and freight delays, notes Eskort chief executive officer Arnold Prinsloo.

“Global turmoil raises the risk that food will not be distributed swiftly, which in turn risks outbreaks of contamination and food-borne illnesses,” he says. “There’s a saying in the investment world that when the tide goes out, you can see who has been swimming naked. Likewise, in the food industry, it’s never been more important for manufacturers and producers to be able to track and monitor ingredients every step of the way to ensure consumer health and safety.”

The World Health Organization estimates that as many as one in 10 people globally, or 600 million individuals, fall sick each year after eating contaminated food – a number which could skyrocket without the necessary food management controls.

As a result of growing pressure on the industry, the global food traceability market is therefore expected to grow at an annual average of 9,3% over the next three years, reaching a total value of some R325 billion by 2025.

“As businesses, traceability offers the opportunity to help protect public health and reduce food waste by creating more agile and responsive food systems. This in turn works to safeguard brand reputations and build consumer loyalty,” adds Prinsloo.

“Traceability also works to optimise supply chains through measuring food losses and identifying weaknesses in supply chains. This significantly reduces the risk of food safety issues or product recalls, and enhances efficiency. It’s a win-win for consumers and companies.”

Demonstrating the level of detail demanded by well-constructed traceability systems, Eskort’s own systems have been designed to monitor the smallest possible batches, which are allocated unique serial numbers. This code captures a range of details such as the individuals responsible for packing product boxes, the time boxes were packed, the individual raw materials used, and their origins.

“For pork products, this enables us to trace the meat all the way back to the individual pigs raised on specific farms,” states Prinsloo.

“Where many companies take a broader approach by allocating a week’s production to a batch, ours are deliberately smaller for greater product control. This investment not only means greater food safety benefits for customers, but also reduces overall risk in terms of possible recalls.”

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