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    June 29, 2023

    How to Harness Supplier Data to Improve Food Safety Efforts

    When it comes to food safety, there’s a lot that could be said using words. However, what can paint an even clearer picture is the numbers. Specifically for food companies, data can be used in a number of ways to determine how food safety efforts are working across the organization and across partnerships. And while it may seem easier to monitor and control internal food safety efforts, there are ways companies can harness supplier data to make informed decisions about their supply chain impacts, as well.

    Supplier data refers to any data collected and maintained about the suppliers who provide goods or services to a particular organization or industry. This data is vital to any organization within the food industry, as it enables companies to make informed decisions about their partnerships, ensures product quality and safety outside of their facilities, and can help everyone along the supply chain maintain compliance, improve processes, and increase transparency. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the numbers and how supplier data can help companies improve food safety efforts across the board.

    Why Does Supplier Data Matter?

    Harnessing supplier data effectively can bring a number of benefits to an organization. Not only can supplier data help companies make informed decisions about their partnerships, but it can also help companies ensure they’re maintaining the highest standards for quality and safety throughout their entire supply chain.

    Some of those benefits include:

    • Quality control: Supplier data helps monitor and assess the quality of ingredients or raw materials used in food production, allowing companies to track and trace the product’s journey from origin to consumer and composition, as well as identify any potential quality issues along the chain. With this data, companies can take quick and efficient action when necessary to maintain consistent quality standards and minimize the impact of a food product recall if a quality issue occurs.
    • Safety and traceability: Food safety is nothing new; protecting consumers and ensuring product quality is paramount for any company within the food industry, and supplier data plays a significant role in ensuring it. By having comprehensive information about suppliers – including their manufacturing practices, handling procedures, food safety plans, and other mandated certifications – food companies can assess the safety and reliability of their suppliers with confidence. They can also access key traceability data, enabling them to swiftly identify affected products and their sources along the supply chain in the event of a food product recall, which is crucial in the evolving era of food safety.
    • Regulatory compliance: Supplier data helps companies comply with evolving food safety and traceability regulations by verifying that suppliers meet the necessary requirements and have the proper documentation (i.e., certifications, permits, licenses) to prove it. It also assists in maintaining accurate records and documentation for food safety audits and FDA inspections.
    • Transparency and consumer trust: In recent years, consumers have become more concerned about sustainability and transparency when it comes to the products they purchase and consume, and they expect companies to be able to meet the demand. Supplier data allows food companies to provide that transparency to their consumers. With this data, companies can disclose information about their suppliers' practices, certifications, and responsible sourcing initiatives, establishing greater consumer trust and catering to consumer trends for more socially and environmentally conscious products.

    From ensuring food product quality to meeting consumer demand, having access to supplier data is invaluable for food organizations in today’s landscape. Leveraging supplier data can also help companies optimize processes that may be causing roadblocks (like onboarding); enable a more agile supply chain network; identify new business connections or opportunities within their supplier networks; keep production costs low; and more.

    Perhaps most important to note, however, is that effectively harnessing supplier data can help companies ensure regulatory compliance and improve food safety efforts across the board. And luckily, there are tools that can help you make efficient use of your supplier data.

    Harnessing Supplier Data with the FoodLogiQ Compliance Dashboard

    Harnessing supplier data in an efficient and effective way to improve food safety efforts can be quite simple, especially if you have an effective dashboard to track compliance and documentation. Within our FoodLogiQ Compliance dashboard (formerly Manage+Monitor), we offer a number of widgets that can help you determine how suppliers are maintaining compliance and following food safety standards.

    • Track supplier onboarding speed: Having access to supplier onboarding time can provide your organization with actionable insights, enabling you to identify trends, determine what might be causing potential issues or holdups, and implement data-backed and data-driven corrective actions. With Trustwell’s “Supplier Days to Onboard” widget, you can determine the average time it takes to transition a supplier from onboarding status to complete status, create and assess graphs to track those trends in onboarding time, and even update onboarding processes within the platform to better streamline operations.
    • Documentation compliance: Do your suppliers need to complete annual HACCP documentation? Or maybe their organic verification documentation is past due, and you need it for your company to be compliant with USDA Organic compliance? FoodLogiQ’s Compliance dashboard includes an open to-do list to make it easier to see what supplier certifications will expire in the next 30 days, are expired, or are incomplete – as well as identify documents that have been previously classified incorrectly – helping you more easily manage supplier documentation and compliance directly on the dashboard main screen.
    • Traceability data accuracy: Using the “Traceability Data Accuracy Warnings” widget, the system will notify users of any potential missing data from suppliers. For example, if you’re prepping for FSMA 204 compliance and need your suppliers to submit location data when capturing lot codes and critical tracking events (CTEs), you’ll be able to see if there are any attributes missing on the supplier dashboard widget. Additionally, if any errors happen (like someone mistyping an expiration date), the widget will notify you of any alarming data that might be due to user error and require further investigation. If suppliers pop up in the widget quite often, then you can also use that information to address any concerns or switch suppliers.
    • Incident time to resolution: Using the widget “Comparison of Incident Time to Resolution by Distributor,” you can track the average time over the past three months that it has taken distributors to address and resolve incidents. This information can be of value for determining which suppliers are struggling with compliance or other performance discrepancies and where there are opportunities for improvement. 
    • Supplier communication: While not specifically a widget that uses data, the FoodLogiQ Compliance suite also offers a simplified supplier communication portal to organize supplier communications and streamline requests – so you can avoid messy email inboxes. From documentation requests to audit information, the ability to connect seamlessly with suppliers, and see related communications on their FoodLogiQ profile, is critical to fostering greater communication and collaboration with your suppliers. You can share data on product specifications, quality issues, or food safety concerns as well as identify areas for collaboration or process improvements to ensure continued compliance at every step of the supply chain.

    Supplier Data Made Easy with Trustwell

    In today’s data-driven and fast-paced food industry, having access to high-quality (and accurate) supplier data is critical for business success. From ensuring product safety and quality and improving supplier relationships, to providing transparency into your operations and optimizing business processes, supplier data can help you make data-backed decisions and stay ahead of the curve. If your company is looking for a solution to help manage, monitor, and leverage supplier data to improve food safety efforts, Trustwell can help. Reach out to our team today.

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