Skip to content
Get Started
    May 9, 2024

    Better Traceability for a More Sustainable Future: A Conversation with Ryan Richard of GS1 US

    Meet Ryan Richard: Leading Supply Chain Innovation at GS1 US

    Ryan Richard is the Vice President of Community Engagement at GS1 US, a company that provides a common digital language to help companies manage their supply chains. Ryan is a leading figure in enhancing supply chain visibility and efficiency through the adoption of GS1 Standards. His journey through GS1 US has taken him from the role of Senior Director of Industry Development for Retail Grocery to his current position, where he spearheads efforts to engage with community members and promote technological advancements in the supply chain. Prior to joining GS1 US, Ryan significantly contributed to Mondelez International as Sr. Manager of Global Data Sync & Industry Standards, where he was instrumental in improving barcode standards and streamlining processes. With a strong background in technology and creative problem-solving, Ryan is a key innovator in the food and retail grocery sectors, dedicated to improving product information transparency and inventory visibility.


    Reducing Food Waste: The Impact of Traceability and the Food Date Labeling Act

    Food waste is a major concern for those both inside and outside the food industry, and the need for effective solutions has never been more urgent. According to the Wall Street Journal, 31% of food goes uneaten, and retailers themselves discard 43 billion pounds of food annually. Ryan emphasizes that traceability and transparency are crucial factors in addressing this problem. His work at GS1 US focuses on helping grocers and food suppliers implement better tracking procedures within the supply chain. With efficient monitoring, food can reach each step at the right time, ultimately reducing waste.

    The Food Date Labeling Act of 2021 aims to reduce food waste by standardizing date labels on food products. This Act seeks to eliminate consumer confusion over "sell by," "use by," and "best before" dates, which often lead to the premature disposal of safe and edible food. By simplifying food labeling, the Act encourages consumers to make informed decisions and reduces unnecessary waste.

    Ryan places great importance on labeling, dividing consumers into two groups: those who fully understand labels like "best-by," "use-by," "expiry," and "sell-by," and those who find these inconsistent methods confusing. This confusion often leads to unnecessary waste, which could be reduced through uniform, regulated labeling methods. Enhancing transparency and traceability aligns with the goals of the Food Date Labeling Act and helps businesses minimize waste while ensuring that food reaches those who need it most.

    The Importance of Traceability: Safety, Compliance, and Inventory Management

    Ryan points out that traceability is often associated with food safety concerns and recall readiness. If there's a health concern or an outbreak of foodborne illness, it's vital that potentially affected foods can be reliably tracked, traced, and recalled. FSMA 204 requires companies to track high-risk foods and improve record-keeping in the supply chain. Not only can harmful food be removed from the market, but studying its journey can reveal how the issue originated, reducing the chances of it happening again.

    Compliance to mitigate these dramatic scenarios is just one aspect; there are also many practical reasons businesses should relentlessly improve traceability. As Ryan explains, "traceability comes down to inventory management." Whether in the food industry or not, businesses need to know where their products are. 

    “You want to know where that is in the supply chain. When's it going to get to the store? When's it going to get to the restaurant?”


    Ryan Richard
    VP of Community Engagement at GS1 US

    The key to GS1 Standards in this regard is unique identification, so every stop can be effectively and efficiently traced, raising safety standards and optimizing businesses. Ryan stresses the importance of adopting technological advancements like 2D barcodes and RFID. "2D barcodes carry a wealth of information, including batch codes and freshness dates, helping with traceability and inventory rotation." RFID technology, used in conjunction with GS1 Standards, can further enhance traceability and inventory management, helping businesses achieve compliance and deliver products efficiently.

    Adapting to Changing Consumer Expectations: Navigating Supply Chain Transparency and Delivery Demands

    In today's market, tracking food through the supply chain is a clear business fundamental. However, from a consumer perspective, expectations around how groceries are acquired have shifted. While in-store purchasing was once the exclusive option, consumers now expect click-and-collect and home delivery at the click of a button. Modern food suppliers must seamlessly integrate all three methods of sale to stay competitive in today's market.

    Another shift in consumer behavior is increased interest in the entire supply chain process. Many want to know the carbon footprint of their food, influencing where they choose to buy from. Being proactive in addressing these issues and aligning with consumer values is not only beneficial for the planet but also good for business.

    Ryan Richard is a fountain of knowledge on the issues and pain points within supply chains and their effects on businesses and consumers. His experience working directly with suppliers makes him an invaluable resource.

    Check out the full podcast episode via the links below. Be sure to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

    Other posts you might be interested in

    View All Posts