4 Reasons to Use Food Specifications to Drive Traceability

Posted on 
August 12, 2021
Laura Foti
CMO, Specright
Why Spec Management is the Foundation of Food & Bev Digitization

In the age of increasing food regulations and prioritization of sustainability, there’s one thing that shouldn’t be slowing you down.

Data management.

Food and beverage companies face the ever-growing demand for safe food and traceability — and the systems deployed to do the job often only address ‘symptoms’ of what causes a lack of traceability, without addressing the root: poor specification data management. In an industry where a mistake could not only cost money, but consumer trust and safety, there’s no room for error. And avoiding errors starts with digitizing your food specification data.

Supply chain traceability minimizes risks. But that doesn’t mean you have to map your entire supply chain all at once. Because supply chains are so interconnected, food specifications provide the foundation that other critical business functions are built around, such as quality, packaging, manufacturing, and more.Here are four ways food specifications effectively drive traceability and improve overall supply chain efficiency.

1. Increase supply chain efficiency by maintaining a flexible supplier network

During 2020, it was obvious which companies were ready to handle the increased consumer demand, and which of them weren’t. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to constantly pivot their supplier networks, ready to switch or engage key players on a moment’s notice to keep up with the demand. This proved impossible without Specification Management software, leaving shelves empty across the country.With Specification Management, specification data is centralized, making sharing live data to new suppliers simple and ensures products are always built off up-to-date specs. And when the time comes to add or switch suppliers, there’s less risk.

2. Quickly adapt to ever-changing industry standards and regulations

As mentioned, the food industry is going through unprecedented times with increasing regulations in safety and sustainability. Last year, in July 2020, the FDA released the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, an extension of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The purpose of this plan is to implement achievable goals like increased supply chain traceability, improved predictive analytics, faster foodborne illness outbreak response times, and more.

Without centralized data and real-time updates, products are vulnerable to mistakes such as mislabeling or product recalls. For example, JUST Eggs, a food company that makes plant-based alternatives to eggs, recently recalled over 80,000 boxes on one of their egg-bite products due to mislabeling allergens on packaging. The label left off some of the allergens inside the package and put thousands of consumers and their health at risk.

These types of food recalls are completely avoidable, but require data to be organized effectively in a traceability system. With regulatory efforts like FSMA driving food traceability and prioritizing public health, companies need to be prepared to adapt to a more transparent supply chain approach.

Meaning: static spreadsheets or ERPs not built to manage specs won’t cut it anymore. Managing food specs with Spec Management software provides the visibility required to ensure and maintain compliance with FDA regulations. And when more regulations are inevitably implemented, digital specifications can seamlessly be reviewed and adjusted - no company-wide email chains needed.

3. How to drive total supply chain traceability, starting with your food specs

The supply chain is extremely interconnected, and can include anything from packaging specs to quality assurance to ingredient tracking. With Spec Management, all the information needed for departments to do their job is found in one effective traceability system, with the ability to make data visible to key stakeholders like retailers or food manufacturers.

Digitized food specs are necessary in order to drive more holistic traceability over the entire value chain. Start by digitizing finished good data for your food products. Naturally, you’ll begin to add common data linkages such as raw materials data, procurement data, manufacturing data, and more. This simplifies initiatives like scalability and flexibility, as all the data you need is available at the touch of a button.

4. Using supply chain traceability to kickstart sustainability initiatives

Sustainability is the future, and to embrace it is to continue moving forward. Consumers are not satisfied with the status quo of food production anymore – they care about where a product comes from and what it’s made of. So what does this mean for the food and bev industry? You can’t produce a sustainable product without traceability, it’s crucial to see where its raw materials come from.

For example, Albertsons had set ambitious sustainability goals to improve and ensure responsible seafood sourcing, and reached those goals two and a half years ahead of schedule. But how were they able to reach their goal 18 months early?Traceable supplier networks. With complete visibility over the supply chain from the source to the consumer, meeting traceability requirements is simple. Food specifications provide visibility and control over your product information, allowing you to set and track goals.

Increase supply chain traceability and efficiency with Specification Management

Take control of your food specifications to drive traceability and transformation in your company, with Specification Management. Achieving complete traceability of the supply chain can be impossible for companies with outdated data management practices. But with Specification Management, traceability starts with food specs, and grows from there. Implementing a system that manages and centralizes food specifications is a game changer.

Check out this ebook The Future of Food is Specification Data Management for more information about why Specification Management is the future.


Laura Foti

Laura leads marketing and investor relations at Specright. Prior to Specright, she led advertising and analytics at GE Digital, GE’s Industrial Internet software business. Before that, she was a consultant at Deloitte Digital working in enterprise digital transformation, where she helped clients design and deploy eCommerce experiences, develop revenue-driving mobile apps, and reimagine their global digital marketing strategy. Laura was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for marketing and advertising and Brand Innovators 40 Under 40 and 100 Women to Watch lists. She graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She resides in Newport Beach, CA.

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