Message from Supporting organization 

Enabling food supply chain visibility along Belt and Road

An increasing globalised food supply chain has brought a much wider choice of food to consumers worldwide, including the Belt and Road regions. At the same time, there has also been an increasing trend of food safety incidents, like the Brazilian meat scandal, that affected all major markets. The opportunities and issues together underline the importance of global food traceability at origin and efficient food product recall, to ensure consumer safety and remain competitive in the global food markets. 

GS1 Hong Kong, as the standards organization dedicated to improving supply chain visibility for all stakeholders along the product’s journey from source to point of consumption, plays a central role in the use of standards to enhance traceability processes across all food categories. Traceability systems enable food companies to clearly identify products with any safety, quality or legal issues and withdraw them from the internal system or recall them from the supply chain in a timely manner. It may also minimize the loss and impact on the business due to product recalls, reduce public health risks, and ultimately enhancing brand image.

GS1 Hong Kong supports food industry to explore the Belt and Road markets with four major approaches: standards, training, assessment and consultation services. 

GS1 Global Data Standards (GDS) were proven and endorsed by APEC trade ministers. Five pilot projects on food supply chain were carried out in 2015 and 2016 that utilized GDS on export and import routes of different food items, including red wine from Australia to Hong Kong, boxed beef from Australia to US, fresh and frozen durian from Malaysia to China and Hong Kong, fresh asparagus from Peru to the United States, Tequila Mexico to the United States.

The pilots have all demonstrated benefits of enhancing supply chain visibility, efficiency and risk management. Adoption of GDS has provided visibility to the cross-border shipments along the supply chain. Manufacturer, distributor, government agent and retailer, can all track and trace the products with simple process, thus help expedite the speed-to-market. This is especially important to cross-border trade, where fresh food and temperature sensitive products are of limited shelf-lives.

The GDS projects were commended by the APEC Ministers, “We recognised that the ongoing work programme to minimise differences in standards and conformance….and encourage officials to explore next steps for the wider use of interoperable GDS in the APEC region.”

According to Aberdeen’s Food Safety and Traceability Report, the best performing food companies have a 60% adoption rate of GS1 standards versus non-performing food companies. To capitalise on Belt and Road opportunities, it is of paramount important for food industry players to adopt international standards, technologies and knowledge, helping to drive supply chain visibility, enhance operational efficiency and increase food safety and thus consumer confidence.

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