The seafood supply chain comprises of a worldwide network of hundreds of thousands of producers (fishers and fish farmers), thousands of processors, and tens of thousands of wholesalers and brokers that buy and sell over 800 commercially important species of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs. A single fish may circle the globe and be touched by 20 different entities before making its way to the consumer. However, key identifying information – the species name, where and when it was caught and with what type of gear, where it was processed, etc. often accompanies a fish on its journey from water to plate. That level of data is simply not an industry standard.
Some supply chain players have found that they can take advantage of that reality and commit fraud with impunity. But increased media attention about mislabelling, illegal fishing, diminishing fish stocks, and modern-day slavery in the seafood supply chain has energized efforts by non-profits, consumer advocates, and government agencies to call for true end-to-end seafood traceability. Within the seafood supply chain, retailers are beginning to take up the cause, compelled by both their corporate social responsibility commitments and by consumer demand for better transparency.
But the costs and challenges associated with broad implementation of the data capture and management systems required to achieve whole-chain traceability are not insignificant. Pushing traceability further down the chain to distributors, processors, and fishers requires more convincing evidence of the business benefits of traceability technology. Until recently, little work had been done to prove that traceability technology can deliver real business value to the supply-chain players that will ultimately foot the bill for traceability system implementation.
Benefits of Traceability Technology Systems for the Fish Industry
The ability of fishers, processors, distributors, and retailers to seamlessly share key information about a product traveling through the supply chain can yield a number of credible advantages. For an individual company, traceability technology can improve quota and inventory management, reduce operational inefficiencies and costs, reduce waste and improve yields, increase the pace of decision-making, and fuel innovation across the entire business ecosystem. If widely adopted throughout the supply chain, traceability technology systems could create more value for the entire industry.
Traceability technology in seafood is a relatively new and evolving market. Flatfish believes that by maintaining old business practices, the industry is missing an opportunity to build value at a time when costs continue to rise.
Cognisant of the gains of utilising such a technology and of the benefits and advantages this could hold for our supply chain, Flatfish has been working on various projects to implement QR coding from vessel to consumer.