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Foodservice firms see benefits from GS1 adoption

Oct. 17, 2011
Dozens of major foodservice companies are seeing measurable benefits as part of the industry-driven Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, GS1 US said.

Dozens of major foodservice companies are seeing measurable benefits as part of the industry-driven Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, GS1 US said.

On the two-year anniversary of the initiative’s launch, the industry has now passed the halfway mark on the way to a 75% voluntary adoption of GS1 standards by 2015 (measured by revenue).

This initiative was launched in October 2009 in partnership with the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), and the National Restaurant Association. The voluntary industry collaboration aims to drive waste out of the foodservice supply chain, enhance product information, and establish a foundation for improved traceability and food safety. To date, companies making up 55% of the foodservice industry’s manufacturer revenue and 45% of the distributor revenue are using GS1 standards.

Brendan Foley, president of Heinz Foodservice, said, “Without these standards, our transactional systems and product information differ all across the board. The grocery and retail industries have been successfully using a standardized product identification and data sharing system for years. Now it’s the foodservice industry’s turn.”

GS1 standards provide a common platform for structuring and sharing product information globally. They include Global Location Numbers (GLNs) for location identification, Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for product identification, and the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) to exchange information through a network of certified electronic data pools.

Mike Roach, president of Ben E Keith Foods, has seen benefits from adopting GS1 standards. “Prior to the foodservice initiative, 6,000 distributors had their own internal systems to move data from manufacturers, but we realized that data wasn’t always accurate,” he said. “That created all sorts of problems downstream for our operator customers, but we can now provide them with more accurate product information thanks to GS1 standards and data sharing via the GDSN.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), menu-labeling legislation underscores the need for a standards-based system for accurate and timely product information.

The GDSN lets supply chain partners continuously synchronize item data for better inventory control, warehouse management, and more efficient handling of purchasing and other transactions. Implementation of GS1 standards also improves product traceability.

The number of foodservice companies subscribing to the GDSN has grown from 191 in 2009 to 1,430 now.

US Foods (formerly US Foodservice), Performance Food Group, and Ben E Keith are all using a common platform to receive up-to-date product information from suppliers. Darden Restaurants and UFPC (Yum! Brands) are among the operators using GLNs and GTINs to standardize the way their supply chain community identifies locations and products.

Since the launch of the initiative, its membership has grown to include 72 members, including ARAMARK, Butterball, Dot Foods, Kraft Foodservice, Subway/IPC, Sysco, and Tyson.

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