GS1 US Launches Initiative with 45 Foodservice Companies

Product data standards group GS1 US said yesterday that 55 foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators have launched the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, and have funded the GS1 US Team for Foodservice to guide execution.

“The scores of foodservice companies voluntarily adopting GS1 standards along a common timeline [are] a powerful testament to their commitment,” said Bob Carpenter, CEO of Lawrenceville, N.J.-based GS1 US. “We pledge to support foodservice with world-class implementation guidance, as we’ve done for 25 other industries, including the retail food industry.”

The initiative recommends the adoption of a common timeline for voluntary individual company implementation of GS1 Global standards for company identification, item identification and product description; 45 of the initiative’s founding member companies have already voluntarily committed to this common timeline.

Striving for 75 percent adoption of GS1 standards throughout the foodservice industry, measured in terms of revenue, by 2015, the initiative has been endorsed by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the National Restaurant Association and GS1 Canada Foodservice. Industry organizations and founding members of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative cite three main objectives and industry-wide benefits as a result of companies choosing to adopt and implement GS1 standards:

--Driving waste out of the foodservice supply chain
--Improving product information for customers
--Establishing a foundation for improving food safety and traceability

The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative was formed as a result of a strategic planning process facilitated by Future Perfect Consulting Services. During the six-month process, presidents of foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators, along with their supply chain leaders, worked with GS1 US, GS1 Canada, and Future Perfect to draft a timeline that individual companies could choose to employ in their voluntary adoption and implementation of GS1 standards.

“Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, LLC, in managing the supply chain exclusively for Yum! Brands, Inc., fully supports the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative and Roadmap,” said Daniel E. Woodside, president and CEO of Louisville, Ky.-based Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, LLC. “We began our project in 2005 utilizing standardized bar codes on our product cases, anticipating benefits for all our business partners. As we now begin to realize some of those benefits, we are excited to share our learnings with the industry and commit our full support.”

“IFMA is fully supportive of voluntary adoption of GS1 standards,” added Tom Sampson, president of Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft North America Foodservice and 2009 IFMA chairman of the board. “Based on Kraft’s experience implementing these standards in Canada, we know data synchronization not only drives out waste and inefficiencies, it also frees up time for manufacturers to collaborate with customers to drive growth. Voluntary adoption of these standards will also create a common foundation for improved product traceability and communication of nutritional information throughout the supply chain.”

Near-term steps in the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative timeline include:

--By Q4 2009: Companies assign GS1 Global Location Numbers to their headquarters
--By Q3 2010: Manufacturers assign GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers to products and include them on order guides and other trading partner documentation
--By Q2 2011: Manufacturers and brand owners will publish product and company identification and related logistics information to trading partners. Distributors retrieve product information, and populate back-end systems and customer product catalogs

Trading partners choosing to adopt and implement GS1 standards will access standard product information through the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), an open platform developed to ensure continuous real-time exchange of consistent, accurate product information among supply chain partners. Many technology providers are certified to help companies with implementation; certification is required to ensure adherence to GS1 global standards.

GS1 US is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the adoption and implementation of standards-based, global supply chain solutions to maximize the cost-effectiveness, speed, visibility and traceability of their goods moving around the world.
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