Investing in Traceability Tomorrow, Today

Created on Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Last month at the Seafood Expo North America in Boston, FishWise – in collaboration with the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC), Future of Fish, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – organized a panel exploring what companies can do to implement traceability improvements now while ensuring they are setting themselves up to be adaptive and flexible to a rapidly evolving traceability landscape.

FishWise Traceability Division Director and 2017 Seafood Champion Award for Leadership finalist Mariah Boyle moderated the panel, titled “Investing in Traceability for Tomorrow, Today.” Panelists included Adriana Sanchez from Sea Delight, Guy Lott from Regal Springs Tilapia, and Mike Kraft from Bumble Bee Foods.

The panelists, each representing a different industry sector and niche, brought their own perspectives and experiences with traceability to the discussion. For Sea Delight, a midsize U.S. importer and distributor that sources from fisheries improvement projects (FIPs) globally, Adriana emphasized the importance of engaging small-scale fisheries in traceability improvement efforts and understanding the unique traceability challenges smaller producers face. Dealing exclusively in farmed tilapia and operating via vertically integrated supply chains, Guy discussed Regal Springs’ approach to traceability and how the company uses it to ensure product integrity and satisfy customer requests. Mike spoke to the importance of traceability for Bumble Bee’s internal tracking and supply chain needs, as well as leveraging traceability into additional product information for consumers via the company’s Trace My Catch website.

Bringing their hard-earned wisdom to the discussion, the panelists each discussed the influencing forces that spurred their company’s initial action to implement traceability improvements, the factors and considerations that helped them to decide where to focus traceability investments, and a few of the biggest challenges and benefits they’ve experienced over the course of their traceability journey. For Sea Delight, investing in traceability improvements over the last few years has played a key role in preparing the company to meet the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program that will go into effect January 1, 2018. Guy highlighted that for Regal Springs, traceability has helped the company retain business while continuing to obtain new customers who value traceable product. And for Bumble Bee, traceability has enabled the company to meet its commitment to source legally harvested seafood and has resulted in increased visibility into the supply chains Bumble Bee works with.

The panelists each left the audience with one piece of advice: 1) Take action, know what’s coming, and ask questions! 2) Do your part to educate the public and have them demand traceable products and 3) Everyone is going to be at different starting points in terms of traceability. It is important to realize that and make improvements and changes that make the most sense for your company in terms of where you are now and what your end goal is.

In addition to “Investing in Traceability Tomorrow, Today,” FishWise, Future of Fish, GFTC, and WWF organized an additional panel at Boston – “Beyond Buzzwords: Translating Traceability for Everyone.” Moderated by Charles Steinback of Future of Fish, the panel featured Tejas Bhatt from GFTC, Tom Kraft from Norpac Fisheries, and David Schorr from WWF. The panel focused on the key concepts and technologies that promise to affect the traceability world in a very real way, the future of traceability, and the business case for its importance.

For more information about seafood traceability, please visit our Traceability Resources Page for additional information.