With the demand for food growing rapidly worldwide, the need for certainty around how food products are handled and where they come from is becoming increasingly important. Supply chains are more complex and far reaching than ever before and involve a larger number of players between the time a food product rolls off the production line and its arrival at supermarket stores. One weak link in the cold chain means that retailers could unknowingly sell contaminated products to their valued customers and jeopardise their hard-earned reputation.
While food retailers are responsible for ensuring that the food they sell meets the highest of food safety standards, they rely on those further down the supply chain to provide safe produce and reliable data about how that produce was handled. This leaves them vulnerable, unable to protect themselves against the risks of food contamination, recalls, and fraud – all of which are on the rise and cost food retail businesses millions every year.
The costs of food fraud to the global food industry are estimated at between $10B and $15B annually. The total cost of food-borne illnesses in the US alone is estimated at between $55.5B and $93.2B a year. Food recalls are also on the rise – up 92.7% in the U.S. since 2012, and up 44% in the UK in just three years. The Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association estimate that on average the cost of a single food recall to a business is $10 million in direct costs and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in indirect costs, such as damage to the brand’s reputation and loss in sales.
Two recent reports, jointly published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), found that campylobacteriosis and listeriosis infection is on the rise across almost all EU member states. Listeriosis is one of the more serious food-borne illness, with the highest mortality rate of all food-borne pathogens.
The reports also found that harmful bacteria found in food, such as salmonella and campylobacter, are becoming increasingly resistant to antimicrobials commonly used in the treatment of these infections. This means that the stakes are higher than ever in preventing the outbreak of such food contaminants. Crucially, the reports cite practices in food production as major factors in the spread of these resistant bacteria.
In April 2018, Food Safety Magazine reported the estimated costs of a single food-borne outbreak to various food businesses as follows:
- Fast food: $3,968 to $1.9 million
- Fast casual: $6,330 to $2.1 million
- Casual dining: $8,030 to $2.2 million
- Fine dining: $8,273 to $2.6 million
It’s clear that the current processes that retailers and distributors use for the handling and transportation of products is open to manipulation and a lack of transparency, and it’s affecting customer confidence. If an issue of contamination or fraud arises, retailers are often left in the dark when trying to pinpoint a cause. This means that they often have to take expensive, unfocused action to minimise the impact of the incident – pulling a wide range of products that only might be connected to the issue. They are also unable to discover preventative actions that could help avoid a repeat of the incident.
ZetoChain will transform current practices and methodologies in cold chain management, offering an unprecedented level of transparency and traceability. For the retailer, this means increasing brand trust, improving the efficiency of the cold chain and compliance with food safety standards, and saving on expensive costs related to food contamination and recalls.