In the United Kingdom, the safety of consumer goods concerns has been the central driver of installation and investment in traceability systems in the large Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies. Traceability systems have benefited the food production companies in improving the complex food supply chain. These systems offer the opportunity to large FMCG companies to upgrade information about the safety, accuracy, competence, and sustainability of their food products. Traceability systems provide a complete tracking capability of the environment, production, and transportation processes of the food products that help meet consumer demands of food transparency. Further, these systems nourish the food production companies on a large and small scale through increased market share and means to supervise the food industry.
On the other hand, the government uses traceability systems to inspect and supervise the food production industry to ensure food safety. Consumers can access traceability media to gather information regarding the food they consume. It increases their knowledge, making them equally aware of the food products’ standards. Due to increased demand for food safety programs, innovations such as blockchain have solved this problem across the entire food supply chain. Many large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom have already adopted these systems in the food production sector.
This literature review aims to give insights into the traceability systems, providing a detailed overview of their roles in large FMCG brands. Besides, the review highlights the current traceability systems and focuses on their significance. Equally important, the study reveals the effectiveness of these systems in the food industry, focusing on the recent food traceability innovations and the official roles of blockchain technology in food traceability. The proposed methodology is also discussed.
Traceability is becoming more significant in both developed and underdeveloped countries globally. This review presents the roles of traceability systems as a solution in maintaining food safety of fast moving consumer goods companies in the United Kingdom. Food safety is crucial in the U.K. as it guarantees that the citizens’ food is safe. Lack of food safety measures in a country causes serious illnesses with food poising and other foodborne diseases that can lead to death. These systems facilitate user companies in the U.K. to keep track of the wellness of their food products following several food safety scandals that have happened before in the country. These systems form a landmark for food safety and identification. Effective implementation of traceability systems assists FMCG companies to improve their ability to implement a concrete safety and quality compliance program. It enhances the brand’s ability in risk management and thus equips them with skills for quick response to food emergencies. Traceability refers to the aptitude to access information concerning a product throughout its life cycle with the aid of a system of recorded identifications. They enable firms to record and locate food products following the stages of their operations. They include manufacturing, distribution, and food processing. Traceability Systems in the U.K. market benefits the FMCG brands to identify the cause of strangeness in food products. It improves the strategies to prevent hazardous products from reaching consumers. Traceability systems matter because they reduce food contamination, diseases, and spoilage (The Enabling Environment for Food Traceability Systems, 2019). Focusing on the interest by consumers to know the bearings of their food based on safety perspective has increasingly resulted in recognition of traceability systems in the domestic and international market. Large FMCG brands use this traceability system to build trust worldwide and their consumers.
The best way to address food safety challenges in the U.K. is to upgrade traceability processes, enhance food security, and encourage integrity among the food supply chain parties. To understand the impact of traceability systems in large FMCG brands in the United Kingdom, it is important to research the available methods. It will help us to generate a report on the possible improvements needed. Large FMCG companies are characterised by high outputs, extensive distribution of consumer goods, and high inventory turnover. Therefore, if an issue relates to fast-moving consumer goods, the brand should trace it back through their production stages. Following the product’s history, it is possible to identify the source of the problem and make the necessary corrective measures before it causes harm to the consumers. Following the signing of traceability to food producers in the domestic and international trade, the literature review aims to answer the following questions:
- What is the significance of food traceability systems?
- What is the title role of traceability systems in ensuring food safety in large FMCG brands?
- How effectively does the current traceability systems mitigate the large FMCG brand’s risks?
- How solid are the traceability processes in the large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom?
- What are the various traceability systems available in the large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom?
- Do these traceability systems comply with the United Kingdom laws and regulations in ensuring food safety?
- How many details do traceability systems available in large FMCG brands provide?
- How fast can these traceability systems in large FMCG brands generate useful insights during consumer product emergencies?
Impact of the study
This literature review is useful for many large fast moving consumer goods companies who want to support their customers by ensuring the food that they consume is safe. The study aims to acquaint the reader with a depth insight into the traceability systems already available in the large FMCG brands in the U.K. With the information gathered by this literature review, large FMCG companies will be in a position to improve each facet of their production process to enhance accurate traceability. These companies will be able to view and locate the history of the food products if the need arises. Li and Gao (2020) argue that when consumers are not assured about the safety of the food products they consume, they can defend their rights. This can be done through traceability supply chain reports. This study will point out the inherent challenges facing traceability systems in these firms, such as unsound supervision, immature technological application, and lack of a unified standard of the systems. In addition, the review will equip large FMCG firms will knowledge on how to improve their current traceability systems to enhance accuracy, control, and compliance in eliminating illegal activities within their supply chain. On a positive aspect, the study will aid large FMCG firms in improving their traceability systems, thus impacting the national economy of the United Kingdom. It will help build cross-border transparency vital to ease access to local and global industries. It will foster national pride in the domestic established consumer products. Lastly, the study will also serve as useful academic material for other scholars that will need information on the same or equally related topic.
Importance of Food Traceability Systems
In the United Kingdom, the government is most concerned with protecting its citizens by implementing food safety rules and regulations. These rules and regulations ensure that consumer products produced by FMCG brands are safe for consumption. It can be achieved by improving food production processes, manufacturing, storage, transportation, and handling consumer goods by large FMCG companies. In an attempt to prevent food poising, spoilage, and contamination, traceability systems aid in the foodservice industry to maintain hygienic food standards. According to Food Standards Agency (2020), the Food Standards Act 1999 provides the main objectives to protect public health in relation to food consumption. Large FMCG companies have installed traceability systems to enhance food safety, reflecting on this act. Traceability systems are important in the following ways:
- Traceability systems guarantee food safety and also makes consumers assured.
According to Li and Gao (2020), guaranteeing food safety for consumer goods is important as it accounts for a large proportion of human’s diet. Consumers can obtain information on the food product they have purchased through barcodes printed on the commodity. These barcodes can get details relating to varieties, planting sites, product origin, the transportation mode used, and the available tastes. Kumperscak et al. (2019) allege that bar codes are economical and offer accurate readings. It benefits consumers to fathom the quality of the product before purchasing or consumption. Li and Gao (2020) alleges that consumers can collate the same product with other company products; thus, they can make the best purchase decision based on quality. Moreso, consumers are interested in the quality of a product and its reliability. Consumer satisfaction has been enhanced following improved processes in large FMCG companies through traceability systems. According to Li and Gao (2020), consumers can gather knowledge about products from the media through different traceability platforms. This gives them basic information about the ingredients and processes involved in producing that product. Reflecting on “knowledge is power”, consumers can provide feedback based on the information gathered from the media regarding the product. Consumers can criticise the product they find are not using the right production methods, which raises the alarm to the U.K. government. Appropriate legal action can be taken against the firm involved. Firms are held liable for any food contamination.
- Traceability systems aid both the government and FMCG companies to operate and supervise the market
Traceability systems improve the supply chain operations and assist in cost savings. Through tracking and tracing processes, large FMCG companies can meet industrial standards since they can control the origin of the product, its status, and location. Li and Gao (2020) argues that these systems benefit the firms in managing unnecessary costs incurred in production. It also aids in product competitiveness in the market. Large FMCG companies in the U.K. can control the entrants of fake products, and the systems help reduce the possible costs incurred in hunting down counterfeits (Li and Gao, 2020). Through the systems’ capabilities to gather information about a product from the manufacturing stage to consumption by consumers, the FMCG brands supervise the production processes of their consumer goods. Tracing and locating flaws in their production processes, the firm’s response to quality issues in the industry is quick. It secures their reputation in the public domain. In addition, it upholds the product’s reputation to the public. Public perception about the FMCG firm and its product is vital for its survival. Contrastingly, the government can research the challenges citizens face at the hands of consumer goods producers (Li and Gao, 2020). The government, therefore, legislates rules and regulations focusing on the challenges. Besides, the U.K. government can apprehend the market situation of consumer products with the aid of a well-designed traceability system. According to Li and Gao (2020), the ability of the government to monitor the market benefits it by reducing its daily workload following the inspection and supervision practices of the industry. Response to emergencies is facilitated to prevent deaths by food illness.
- Traceability Systems increases operational productiveness in FMCG brands.
Large FMCG companies, as a result of traceability systems, have been able to improve their supply chain management. Following the company’s demand for consumer goods, the firm can effectively adjust its inventory to meet the demand. A traceability system facilitates accuracy in inventory management in a company. Likewise, traceability systems have improved processes, resulting in decreased product errors. With it, a large FMCG company can maximise their workflow. According to Razak et al. (2021), reflecting on the complexity of the supply chain in recent years, he argues that there is a need for a technological invention that will assist businesses in predicting future outcomes. Traceability system has been useful to large FMCG companies by increasing their supply chain confidence. The brands have been more efficient in their supply chain operations, resulting in an aggrandising demand for consumer products. This follows the improved product tracing by the company and tracing their partners’ performance. Traceability systems have been effective in reducing wastage and spoilage of consumer goods. Its tracing capabilities have made this possible, resulting in improved inventory management.
- Traceability systems are associated with market access benefits to large FMCG companies.
Improved company reputation to the public supports the brand’s venture into new marketplaces. In addition, the brand benefits from increased market share and competitive advantage over its competitors. According to Thesmar (2015), a firm needs to control its supply chain in the recent domestic and international market or even during a crisis. Further, the large FMCG brands gain new customers following their good public reputation. Traceability systems have affirmed increased consumer assurance, fostering consumer loyalty to the brand.
- Through insurance, reduced costs, and faster recovery, traceability systems benefit the companies from risk mitigation.
When large FMCG companies engage with insurance companies, some demand product tracing reports to confirm certain brand policies. Thus, a company that possesses traceability systems benefits from reduced liability covered by insurance if they occur. Moreover, traceability systems reduce the time to review critical data when an event has occurred relating to the company products. It reduces precious time and resources that the company would have employed to review large files of data manually. In general, traceability systems in large FMCG brands in the U.K. reinforce decision-making processes, faster verification, and recovery from insignificant circumstances.
Current Food Traceability Systems
Powerful traceability systems are vital to large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom. The food companies protect their reputation using this system. Reflecting on Razak et al. (2021) about the complexity of the global supply chain in the world today, it is important to trace food commodities by large FMCG in the U.K. Food companies focus on complying with food regulation standards, and this requires them to look for means to navigate and comply. For example, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), established in 2002 in European Union, calls for companies in the food manufacturing sector to inform them about each step of their supply chain (European Union, 2022). Besides, food manufacturing companies must adhere to domestic laws and those of the international market. Therefore, technological innovations from various companies have invested heavily in research to develop software’s that will assist food production companies with traceability systems. A good traceability system should record and store data, for example, the contact information of the producers, suppliers, transaction delivery dates, batch numbers, information about the product’s origin, the expiry date, quantity etc. In addition, the system should be able to provide real time data based insights (Marel, 2021). Further, ideal systems of traceability in the FMCG companies should offer detailed descriptions capturing the history of the product raw materials lot tracking for easy identification of food materials from the suppliers that have an issue (Noakes, 2021). Noakes (2021) also argues that an ideal system should notify the user of what items or ingredients their products have come into contact with. Additionally, a quick food product recall is an ideal traceability system concerning the United Kingdom law. Some of the current systems available include Centric PLM, Emydex, Inspired Portal, Instant Platform, Innova, Bulkvision, Lawson software, Aptean, and Shopfloor management system.
- Centric PLM software
A food traceability system from Centric Solutions in the U.K. combines the food-related data into a single platform. The system has been recognised by many large FMCG brands in the U.K. for its minimisation of food processing errors and improved market margins (Centric Software, 2022). This traceability system is flexible and offers an easy to use interface to the consumers with features for mass editing and quick trail navigations. However, its weaknesses include difficulty tracking all the product information across the food supply chain.
According to Emydex (2022), the system is designed to speed up product recall and provide a unique platform for generating traceability reports in large FMCG companies. It benefits food production companies with real-time efficient food traceability. Emydex (2022) alleges that the system has multiple backward, time-bound, forward, and batch traceability features.
- Inspired portal – Inspired technology Food Manufacturing ERP systems
According to Inspired Tech (2022), this is a customisable traceability system that aids firms in the food production industry in organise their components efficiently. The systems enable firms to trace food products from the production stages down to consumer sales. The system guarantees food safety.
- Instant platform
Instant platform is a cloud-based ERP food traceability solution that accelerates and certifies food safety in large FMCG companies in the U.K. (Source Forge, 2022).
- Innova food processing software
According to Marel (2021), this system offers traceability services to food production organisations. Marel (2021) states that it is an effective system that collects and stores data giving production companies a chance to improve their performance. It provides end-to-end traceability from the delivery of the product to its final output. Marel (2021) alleges that the system saves time, minimises wastage, and assists firms to expand. Food companies can choose this software and utilise data collected effectively.
Borelidis (2020) states that Bulkvision is a system that was intended to enhance transparency in the transportation of food related products. This software fosters traceability of food being shipped across the globe. Its tools include parcel tracking, container tracking etc. The system falls under food safety, transparency, and traceability. It ensures complete traceability of food and every documentation in the supply chain. According to Borelidis (2020), the system is convenient following its ability to enhance traceability of food products and provide detailed information. The system gives information about the freight hours, container details during shipment etc. Also, the receiver of the products can be able to scan the shipment progress of their product using the bulkvision Mobile App. Borelidis (2020) alleges that the system is very secure. It is protected via blockchain.
- Aptean food and beverage ERP
This system maintains data relating to origin factories of origination of the beverages. It is an equipped system with traceability features. Jack Payne (2021) points out that the system can automate the data captured by integrating barcode and code scanners. Additionally, the Aptean ERP is a multilevel tracking system that can trace even larger food production units. The systems use serial numbers or codes to give reports about a product. Aptean ERP facilitates a smooth tracing process, thus preventing food wastage and quick response to emergencies.
- Lawson Software
This is a traceability system designed and manufactured to assist food production companies in improving their food safety and quality risk management policies. Companies using this system simplify their tracing processes despite the complexity of the global supply chain. The system is web-based. Companies can secure their public reputation using this system as its data provides key details vital to the brand. Information shared to the consumers includes product origin transportation data.
- Shopfloor Online Inventory
It is an online-based system with an end to end traceability. It offers traceability services from the raw materials at the production level to finished goods. The system is linked with the firm inventory management module that monitors its consumption of raw materials in production. In return, it improves the efficiency of raw material monitoring in the firm’s ERP. The system aids the food production companies avoid errors by monitoring the raw materials at every production stage. Moreso, it assists the company to minimise inventory wastage, thus implementing a correct First in First Out strategy of raw materials.
Role of Traceability systems in ensuring food safety in large FMCG
In the domestic and international markets, traceability systems vary widely. Concerning this scope, the systems can fall under the individual firm level internally in the food production or within the complex global supply chain of the organisation in a country (Enabling Environment for Food Traceability Systems, 2019). It is evident in the U.K. market that consumers increasingly demand to be informed of a product’s processes in the supply chain. Traceability systems offer tracking services of products across the food supply system. They have been acknowledged by many large FMCG companies in the U.K. These systems play a vital role to both the food producers and their consumers. According to Enabling Environment for Food Traceability Systems (2019), food contamination, afflictions, and spoilage in the food chain is minimised through traceability. In large FMCG companies, traceability systems help identify unsafe food materials that may have slipped during production. Further, the FMCG brands can minimise food waste following the accuracy of traceability systems to remove the infected food materials before reaching the consumers. Traceability systems have resulted in food improvement since the system now allows the consumer to be involved in the production and supply chain of the products. Through traceability media, consumers can monitor the procedures that their food passes before reaching them. Due to fear of losing their consumers and the transparency in the production sector, large FMCG companies are forced to improve their manufacturing processes to meet the demands of their consumers. For public safety, reducing food fraud incidences through traceability has ensured food safety in the FMCG companies. Furthermore, the systems have lowered the rate of product recalls, thus lowering the liability costs. Resulting inefficiency in the production process, the large FMCG brands have come up with innovations that support high-quality products that foster food safety in the United Kingdom market.
What can be done to improve current food traceability systems?
The current traceability systems available in large FMCG brands lack some necessary features for enhancing a hundred per cent food safety. Therefore, measures to improve these systems should be put in place to reduce the dangers prompted by food spoilage and contamination. Focusing on the number of product flaws, the need for traceability systems improvement is vital. Implementing technology, creating alerting systems, establishing consumer communication through loyalty programs, and stakeholder support, it is possible to accelerate the traceability impact in the current systems (World Economic Forum, 2019).
- Installation of end to end technology-enabled traceability.
Technology keeps on changing, and with it comes new opportunities to improve the way of doing things in the country. It is possible to leverage the ever changing technology to produce a traceability system that is consistent and comprehensive in collecting data along the entire food supply chain. According to World Economic Forum (2019), introducing a technology enabled traceability in the supply chain would represent a remarkable shift in the food production sector. Besides, the organisations should adopt new technological ledgers to improve their current recording and sharing of analytical data across the supply chain. World Economic Forum (2019) alleges that the food production sector companies should develop new food testing and monitoring systems at a lower cost. This will reduce the inefficiency of the traceability systems in the large FMCG firms in the U.K. today. By leveraging technology, large FMCG companies can meet customer demand for transparency in food production. Therefore, the stakeholders need to address the gaps in technology and the supply chain. It is necessary for the implementation of new and advanced food product identifiers. At the same time, implementation of an extensive supply chain purposed to disaggregate food products by origin or quality. Focusing on this will benefit large FMCG companies to improve their ability in identifying and respond to food safety emergencies. Similarly, the current technology will be useful in reducing fraudulent information in the food production industry. Equally important, through the alignment of technology and standards infrastructure relating to the specific information needed to be collected using the traceability systems so that innovations on the same can be standardised (World Economic Forum, 2019). Moreso, increasing food transparency will impact the reduction of food loss across the globe and, more importantly, in the large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom. There is a need to recognise the changes necessary to validate the social impacts of the food production systems in the U.K.
- Stakeholders Support
On the other hand, the support of the stakeholders has a great impact on improving the current traceability systems in the United Kingdom. There are some stakeholders involved in the food production industry, namely the government, large FMCG companies, technology companies, retailers, food producers, civil society leaders, and the consumers (World Economic Forum, 2019). Obliging to each stakeholder’s role will support the growth of traceability systems, thus improving the food supply chain in the U.K. Technology firms are supposed to develop the best-advanced traceability systems needed to reduce liability cost and thus improve the accuracy in food production and delivery to the consumers. In addition, they can benefit in laying the foundation to reduce the infrastructure gaps by establishing machine learning systems that will adapt to the changing market, thus providing reliable feedback despite the changes in the economy. Additionally, government support and guidance is crucial. The government should develop policies that will propel the adoption of traceability systems and, at the same time, set standards for these systems. The government should establish a clear rule on who should be held accountable when this policy is violated. Providing financial support to technology companies will prompt research for traceability systems that will best suit the food production sector in the U.K. into the bargain. Food producers’ involvement in the discussions for traceability systems will promote diversity of ideas. The technology company using this idea will be able to develop a system that covers all the areas of food production ensuring efficiency and reliability of the system. It is important to recognise their input as it will unlock new minds. Finally, the civil society in the U.K. holds the chance to improve the current traceability systems by creating standards and regulations. According to World Economic Forum (2019), both donor and civil society can become financiers in significant research innovations in a country. They can also create a policy whereby all stakeholders establish a common ground for discussions on the future of traceability systems. Reflecting on both technology and stakeholders’ involvement, it is possible to achieve traceability systems that will shape the food industry. Large FMCG firms can finally recover from food wastage and increased complaints about consumer goods in the domestic market. However, for improved traceability systems to be achieved, all the stakeholders must collaborate through a shared vision and recognition of mutual partnership (World Economic Forum, 2019).
- Alerting traceability systems.
Installing an efficient event monitoring system that gives notification to the large FMCG company administrators across the entire food supply chain when incidences about their products occur. It will facilitate a smooth reaction from all the relevant individuals in the supply chain to prevent further consumption of the same product while the emergency is resolved.
- Engaging the consumer through communication
Communication improves the relationship between large FMCG companies and their consumers. Through loyalty programs, mainly reward cards and information about consumers, large FMCG brands can use this program to send alert messages about contaminated food products.
How effective is a traceability system, especially in increasing food safety?
Traceability is a significant investment to a food company. It is a tool that aids in monitoring food products to ensure they are safe for consumption by consumers. Large firms in the U.K. benefit from controlling the food supply chain (Thesmar, 2015). Traceability systems are effective in food safety in the followings ways:
- Increase food quality
Following the policies put in place by the U.K. government, large FMCG companies are obliged to meet certain food safety measures. They are bounded by the law to obey this policy. Else they may face charges. To protect their cottage industry, large FMCG companies confidently invest in bettering their food products to prove that their product is safe for use. Additionally, they increase food quality to guarantee they gain a competitive advantage. In these attempts, the company enhances food safety in the country.
- Acknowledges the customer demand for food transparency
In recent years, consumers have demanded to be informed on the production supply chain processes. This has followed due to increased consumer exploitation worldwide, with recent reports from the World Health Organization about increased deaths from food poisoning. According to WHO (2020), approximately 600 million get sick due to food contamination and more than 420000 pass away every year. The demand by consumers to be alerted on the production processes have mitigated the reduction of fraudulent food products that have not met the required standards for consumption. Consumers now know the harm of consuming counterfeit products that threaten their health. This has motivated large FMCG companies to be alert, and thus they develop products that meet the demands of consumers promoting food safety.
- Improved stock tracking
Traceability systems are significant in eliminating illegal activities in the food supply chain. In case of a flood emergency, the United Kingdom government can establish the grounds for unlawful products or unfair production processes. The firm involved in these activities is held responsible for the damages that have occurred in the process. Therefore, it is the role of management to guarantee the food they manufacture is of high quality and it meets the government’s standards. Due to fear of losing their licence, the large FMCG brands are forced to develop food products that meet the measures established.
Recent Innovations in Food Traceability
As the global population is rising every day, there is a need for reducing the risk of getting unsafe food products from consumers—this advocates for improving efficient traceability systems in the food supply chain. Kumperscak et al. (2019) state that innovation of better traceability systems will help to minimise the manufacturing and distribution of harmful food products across the world. Reflecting on food safety policies, recent technologies have emerged to facilitate better traceability. According to Kumperscak et al. (2019), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), and DNA barcoding are among the latest innovations in food traceability.
- Radio Frequency Identification
Kumperscak et al. (2019) allege that RFID perceives objects using automatic radio waves. A serial number is attached to its antenna. The whole system of RFID contains tags that are either passive or active, an antenna that holds the serial number of a product, a reader that interprets data, and a database with tracking software. The system also contains semi-passive tags that are assisted by an internal battery. However, the system is limited with the varying frequency output, including low-level frequency range, high-level frequency output, and ultra-high level frequency output. The system benefits food production companies since they can reduce liability costs, efficiently maximise the workplace, and improve customer experience. Since the system is automated, it allows companies to keep track of the movement of food products. Additionally, it dispenses return on investment. It is a durable system and a cost efficient traceability system. The system provides tracking capabilities, but it also reduces the theft of food products. RFID is equipped with a real-time locating system that tracks the flow of food products across the entire food supply chain. However, Kumperscak et al. (2019) state the system’s reliance on the reader for data collection inconveniences it. Besides, it lacks a properly established communication line between its multiple components.
- Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN)
It is a traceability innovation that relies on sensor nodes to establish communication (Kumperscak, 2019). This system has a low power consumption rate and is highly flexible. It has a broad application prospect and plays a significant role in production practices. Like RFID, Wireless Sensor Network enables the last retailer in a supply chain to locate the product path from production. However, the system has some weaknesses; for example, data is often lost due to battery power and local network interferences. However, the data lost can be recovered using data mining technology. The advantages of this traceability system are that it reduces liability costs for food production companies, saves power, and is flexible.
- DNA Barcoding
DNA barcoding was introduced following the rising commercial fraud cases to counter this problem. It is a system that analyses protein present in food products to establish the manufacturer’s I.D. (Kumperscak et al., 2019). Kumperscak et al. (2019) allege that this system is mainly used in the food industry to certify the raw materials used in food production. However, the system has weaknesses such as DNA extraction processes and the fact that it entirely depends on mitochondrial for DNA extraction. On the other hand, it is a very reliable traceability system. It also requires less amount of biological samples.
Role of blockchain technology in food traceability systems
Blockchain is a technological system that enables companies to record information securely, thus making it difficult for outsiders or unauthorised personnel to access it (Feng et al., 2020). Due to increased distrust in the food supply chain, blockchain has been introduced to upgrade traceability performance by fostering transparency of transactions. Blockchain offers solutions to the challenges of traceability systems implementation on food distribution. Food production companies need to improve the relationship they have with their customers, and therefore there is a need to sustain the food supply chain. As large FMCG companies struggle to locate the sources of food contamination, it is essential to authenticate the supply chain. However, the study of blockchain technology presents gaps. There is little knowledge on how this technology can enhance consumer demands of food transparency based on security in the food supply chain (Kim et al., 2017). When blockchain is integrated with the internet of things, it provides large FMCG companies with the means to overcome issues on security of information and transparency concerns. The roles of blockchain are as follows:
- Blockchain provides information security in traceability systems.
When large FMCG companies store their information in a blockchain, it is harder for hackers to penetrate their firewalls and tamper with them. According to Feng et al. (2020), blockchain improves data integrity present in the organisation. However, the large FMCG brands need to recognise the need of combining the Internet of things with blockchain, which is said to foster transaction efficiency.
- Blockchain facilitates sustainable and transparent traceability management.
Applying blockchain in food companies builds trust among the people involved. Through the information gathered about a product from a certain food company, the parties in the supply chain can trace that product back to the company (Feng et al., 2020). Enhancing this type of transparency in the food supply chain promotes sustainable trade among the participants.
- Blockchain diminishes food wastage and liability costs.
Large FMCG companies face the challenge of food wastage in cases where the food is unsafe for human consumption. This results in losses of capital and raw materials. Therefore, providing reliable information for each stage in the food chain aids the large FMCG brands to make concrete decisions that minimise mistakes, thus reducing losses.
- Upgrading food supply chain
Businesses operate mainly on trust. Many business transactions in a supply chain depend on how much they trust and rely on one another. When applied in traceability systems in large food companies, Blockchain encourages collaboration of the supply chain participants based on trust (Feng et al., 2020). The purpose of blockchain is to increase efficiency in tracking and the quality of information used in tracing food products.
To explore the role of traceability systems in maintaining food safety of a large FMCG company in the U.K. It has been established that research advances beyond the exercise of gathering information. The literature review will relate the actions to be taken to investigate and to understand the research questions. The study will expound on the rationale for implementing specific techniques to connect and analyse the data gathered. The procedures and practices employed in this research will make this review manageable, smooth, and effective.
The research design refers to the method to answer the research questions (Virginia tech, 2018). Reflecting on the significance of a good research design, the information obtained will aid the researcher to respond to the research questions effectively. To establish the findings in the literature review, the analyst will employ the following research methods:
- Participant observation
By observing the production processes in the large FMCG companies, the researcher can discover the process flow of raw materials across various departments. Additionally, they will discover the steps of traceability employed in these organisations; thus, the researcher will pinpoint improvement opportunities. Observation takes two forms. That is, it can be passive or active. Both forms will give actual results, but it is important to note that passive observation gives satisfactory results because the researcher will gather information from the large FMCG companies without directly interfering with the outcomes. Besides, active observation will also establish reliable results, for it gives a better understanding of the current traceability systems in the company and how it is used. However, the analyst will have to interfere with the business process, thus manipulating the outcome.
- Conducting Experiments
The researcher will conduct traceability experiments in the large FMCG brands with the consent of the management to identify their effectiveness. These experiments will provide first-hand results on how the system works and identify the possible weaknesses in the system. Experiments will equip the analyst with many variations since they will fully control the traceability system. The significance of conducting physical experiments in large FMCG firms is that it will lead to excellent results.
- Analysing the secondary data
Through the help of information from the already existing research on traceability systems in the U.K., the analyst will compare their findings and those of other people. This will aid the researcher to establish a concrete response to the research questions. Some of the secondary data sources include the academic files in the school libraries and business articles available on the internet. The researcher will gather accurate information from this material following the discoveries of individuals with more expertise in this field. Further, secondary research benefits the researcher with fresh ideas for exploration on traceability systems. Working with secondary data will save the researchers time considering the research topic is very wide.
- Conducting a Survey
According to Pontol (2015), the survey gathers relevant information from different individuals through their replies to the questions asked. In large FMCG companies, the researcher will survey different stakeholders relating to the organisations. The survey will be based on the research questions, and from their responses, the analyst will compile them for evaluation. A survey will reduce the possibility of information biasness. Following the confidentiality of the study, the targeted individuals will be honest to the researcher, and they will provide unambiguous responses, unlike in the other research proposed methodologies.
The researcher will employ the qualitative approach method of analysis. The qualitative approach method provides the researcher with important information for practical application. The researcher has chosen this specific procedure or technique as it offers them a chance to develop distinct insights on the traceability systems in the large FMCG brands. This methodological approach prepares the researcher to focus on why the food production sectors require firms to invest in traceability systems rather than the details of the systems. Additionally, the researcher is determined to eliminate the chances of biasness in the data they collect. The qualitative approach method is also reliable as the researcher uses non-numerical data to acknowledge the role of traceability systems in large FMCG companies in the United Kingdom. Through focus groups case studies, the analyst will establish the literature review findings.
- Focus groups
The investigator will select randomly participants who are members of the large fast moving consumer goods company to be part of a discussion for this research. The focus group can contain 6-8 members. The researcher will then ask them questions about the effectiveness of the traceability systems in their organisation, who will freely share opinions. The investigator will gather facts that will aid in the literature review and answer the research questions through this group. The focus groups will be convenient because they will be easier to conduct and host. They will give the investigator a clear perception of the group member’s ideas.
- Case studies
The researcher understands that a case study is the extended observation of people in a research area to establish an in-depth understanding of a complex context. The researcher will perform a case study in the food production market, closely identifying the major players in the food supply chain. The researcher will answer the “how” and “why” traceability systems are important in the food supply chain. The information gathered will be detailed, thus making this method unique.
Selection of interviews
Bullock (2016) confirms that interviewing is the method used to gather know-how about the nature of and principles that affirm why certain approaches in research are taken. The investigator will be involved in an open ended session of questions with the civil servants in the food production sector and government food supervisors. The investigator will focus on establishing the current rules and regulations governing the standards of traceability systems. Also, the food policies that the U.K. government has. The interviews will take two approaches, namely: structured and unstructured. In the structured interviews, the investigator will generate questions on the topic for the target individuals to answer. Both open and closed ended questions will be incorporated so that the investigator can cover a wide field on the subject. The data obtained will be reliable and accurate and boost the investigator’s research. Similarly, the unstructured interview will assist the investigator in clarifying the areas in the study that they doubt. The investigator will involve the U.K. officials in a discussion that will prompt social participation through open-aired conversation. The reason for using this method is that it is easy and flexible.
In this part, the analyst will formulate questions for the large FMCG company employees and stakeholders. The analyst will gather information related to the research queries to formulate interview questions that will lead to successful feedback. The analyst will observe the following guidelines under this method:
- Starting with basic questions, for example, asking the interviewees about themselves or what position they hold in the large FMCG brand. It will benefit the analyst to establish trust grounds with the interviewees.
- After familiarising with the candidate, the researcher will move on to the semi-basic questions relating to traceability systems. For example, the researcher may ask the kind of traceability system is present in that large FMCG company. Semi-basic questions will help the researcher determine the candidate’s potential and know-how on the matter.
- Further, moving on to the complex interview questions about the processes involved in food emergencies how traceability processes have been implemented in the company. Additionally, the researcher will gather information on the stages of production in the large FMCG companies. Equally important, the analyst will have a better response to questions following the candidates’ non-verbal behaviour.
The analyst will reflect on the interview questions before providing them to the candidates to establish reasoning for receiving it. Also, it will aid the analyst to differentiate between candidates based on their intelligence and experience in large FMCG companies.
Data and Documentation Sources
According to Wilson library (2021), data documentation refers to providing detailed information about the research to encourage its proper usage by other researchers in the future. Properly documented data is easily understood, making it usable for future research. From the beginning of the literature review, the researcher will document their work and capture information throughout the research period. The researcher’s main aim will be to produce high-quality data and documentation sources. Using the README.txt form, the investigator will provide a file level document revealing the descriptions of the contents of the research datasets. Further, the investigator will provide a project level data source with information on the aims of this literature review, the research questions, and the data collection methodologies. The data documentation sources the researcher will provide includes:
- The structured traceability systems interview questions
- Detailed survey instructions that the researcher used
- A detailed description to show the observations made by the researcher
- The instructions that were used when experimenting with traceability tests
- The guidance material used in the case study in the large FMCG brands
- The focus group research material and instructions
- The investigator will provide links to the sites for secondary data used
- Approved consent forms obtained from the large FMCG management and the government civil service
- A detailed description of the research methods used to analyse the information gathered
- A detailed description of the fieldwork and research context
- Materials of the interview questions used in the research to collect the literature review information
By supporting the procurement of production raw materials, consumption of food products, and increasing food safety in the United Kingdom, the investigator needs to use the right channels to explore the role of traceability systems. The investigator will observe the rights of the candidates who will participate in the research. Non-use of offensive or discriminatory language when dealing with the candidates. The investigator should dully acknowledge the work of other researchers in the same field (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Equally important, the investigator will maintain a high degree of objectivity during the discussion in the large FMCG companies. Besides, all the candidates selected for participation will be informed to get their consent before the research. The researcher will highly acknowledge voluntary participation to enhance freedom of expression. Additionally, the free withdrawal of candidates will be respected throughout the research.
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