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    March 22, 2023

    Exclusive Sneak Peek: Trustwell's 2023 State of Traceability Report

    On the blog, we're offering a sneak peek of Trustwell's latest research: The 2023 State of Traceability Report. Download the report today to learn what's driving adoption, what industry leaders have to say about traceability efforts, new regulatory changes, and a survey on how the industry is preparing for FSMA 204. 

    2023 State of Traceability Report Thumbnail 1When we last visited the state of traceability in 2019, the industry was making way for more Internet of Things (IOT) technology, evaluating customer demand for transparency, and exploring the benefits of transparent solutions along the supply chain.  

    But then 2020 happened. The world saw major supply chain disruptions, an increased demand for online ordering from customers stuck in their homes, and explosive growth in technological innovation to bridge gaps. The pandemic years have changed the industry beyond a point of no return. 

    There are a multitude of external factors impacting advancements in traceability in 2023. Major regulations, such as the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Section 204 of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA 204) in the U.S., have set milestones for companies to advance their technology in the effort of creating a safer food supply chain. The growth of IOT has led to more data that needs monitoring, which some companies have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help manage and make sense of the information they collect. And as consumer demand for online ordering increased, companies had to evaluate and streamline their operations. This led to an explosion of online grocery orders, food delivery services, and the creation of ghost kitchens to meet demands.  

    But all along the way, companies have had growing pains in these endeavors. Many companies realized there were major gaps in communication along the supply chain, which can be detrimental to recalls, consumer safety, and food businesses. Their data and systems lacked interoperability, which caused friction when managing, sharing, or maintaining traceability records. And when recalls happened, companies faced more than just a dent in revenue – some customers lost trust and never came back. 

    Traceability is no longer just a benefit for businesses in viewing and controlling their product along the supply chain – it has become essential. Businesses need traceability solutions to maintain their data, have an end-to-end view of their supply chain, build stronger connections with their supply chain partners, and maintain trust and loyalty with their consumers.  

    The Evolving Era of Food Safety

    2022 was a landmark year for traceability, especially as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized their ruling of FSMA 204, which included the Food Traceability List (FTL) and enhanced recordkeeping requirements for any business (foreign and domestic) that manufactures, processes, packs, holds, or transforms a food on the FTL. The FSMA 204 Final Rule went into effect on January 20, 2023, and businesses have until January 20, 2026, to design, create, and execute their traceability plans. 

    While traceability has been a topic of conversation for well over a decade, that doesn’t mean companies are entirely caught up to where the FDA hopes to be in their New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint. In a recent food industry survey, Trustwell asked how prepared businesses were for FSMA 204. While one-third responded they were very prepared for the regulation, another 9% of respondents had never heard of FSMA 204 and 7% were not confident at all and believed their business wouldn’t be prepared to meet the recordkeeping expectations by the 2026 deadline.   

    While the FDA will allow paper records for FSMA 204 compliance, its New Era blueprint represents a new approach to food safety and traceability. The hope is many food businesses will leverage tech-enabled solutions to create a safer, more digital, traceable food system. But to reach this more transparent, tech-driven future, many companies will need to make significant adjustments, both in their operations and potentially their data infrastructure, to meet FSMA 204’s recordkeeping requirements.  

    The FDA’s vision is to be able to link Critical Tracking Event data at the lot level across the food supply chain. This end-to-end visibility will make the food supply chain more transparent, trustworthy, and bend the curve of foodborne illnesses impacting consumers 

    Consumer Pressure Around Recalls and Supply Chain Woes 

    The pandemic years left a ripple effect across the entire global supply chain, and many businesses are still trying to recover. In 2022 we saw some very high-profile impacts of the past few years with the infant formula recall and subsequent shortage in the U.S. Consumer panic and the delayed response from the FDA set off a chain reaction of events, including the planned creation of the new Human Foods Program at the FDA. 

    While shortages have started to wane, recalls are still on the rise. Much of this is due to enhanced visibility, increased inspections, improved safety parameters, and better food management across the supply chain. However, consumers aren’t always aware of those “behind-the-scenes” influences. With the 24 hours news cycle, social media, and misinformation on the rise, consumers are placing increased pressure on the food industry to push the needle forward on transparency through traceability. 

    But while businesses are being squeezed by consumer demands, they’re also facing an irregular supply chain. Some are strained further by labor shortages, an impending recession, and increasingly tight margins. As a result, traceability and supplier relationships have become a major focus for many businesses as they iron out supply chain anomalies from the past few years.    

    Download the Complete Report Today

    Curious to read more on the state of traceability? Access the complete 2023 State of Traceability Report for free today, complete with survey results from the industry, traceability predictions and advice from industry leaders, and more insights. 

    Download: 2023 State of Traceability Report


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