Foodservice Companies Reach Major Milestones in Standards Initiative

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Leaders strive to transform industry’s supply chain for efficiency, enhanced product information and traceability as Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative observes second anniversary.

To date, companies making up 55 percent of the foodservice industry’s manufacturer revenue and 45 percent of the distributor revenue are using GS1 standards.

Dozens of major foodservice companies are seeing measurable benefits as part of the industry-driven Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, GS1 US said today. On the two-year anniversary of the Initiative’s launch, GS1 US said the industry has now passed the halfway mark on the way to a 75-percent voluntary adoption of GS1 standards by 2015 (measured by revenue).

The Initiative was launched in October 2009 in partnership with the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and the National Restaurant Association, as a voluntary industry collaboration to drive waste out of the foodservice supply chain, enhance product information and establish a foundation for improved traceability and food safety. To date, companies making up 55 percent of the foodservice industry’s manufacturer revenue and 45 percent of the distributor revenue are using GS1 standards.

“Adoption of GS1 standards is going to dramatically change our industry for the better,” said Brendan Foley, President, Heinz Foodservice. “Without these standards, our transactional systems and product information differ all across the board. The grocery and retail industries have been successfully using a standardized product identification and data sharing system for years. Now it’s the foodservice industry’s turn.”

GS1 standards provide a common platform for structuring and sharing product information globally, and include: Global Location Numbers (GLNs) for location identification, Global Trade Item Numbers® (GTINs®) for product identification and the Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®) to exchange information through a network of certified electronic data pools.

Mike Roach, President, Ben E. Keith Foods, has seen many benefits from adopting GS1 standards. “Prior to the foodservice initiative, 6,000 distributors had their own internal systems to move data from manufacturers, but we realized that data wasn’t always accurate. That created all sorts of problems downstream for our operator customers, but we can now provide them with more accurate product information thanks to GS1 standards and data sharing via the GDSN.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), menu-labeling legislation—plus a growing consumer demand for more and better nutritional and allergen product information—underscores the need for a standards-based system for accurate and timely product information.

The GDSN provides easy electronic access to shared data for all supply chain partners. GDSN allows them to continuously synchronize item data for better inventory control, warehouse management, and more efficient handling of purchasing and other transactions. The implementation of GS1 standards also improves product traceability, from the operator all the way back to the distributor, manufacturer, processing plants and ultimately, the farm.

“Traceability is critical for food safety,” said Ann Oka, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management for Sodexo. “If we don’t know where a product came from it is very difficult to ensure quality control, let alone recall products in the case of a foodborne illness outbreak.”

The number of foodservice companies subscribing to the GDSN has grown eightfold since the start of the Initiative– from 191 in 2009 to 1,430 today. Many foodservice companies have also indicated their readiness to send or receive product data through the GDSN.

US Foods (formerly U.S. Foodservice), Performance Food Group, Ben E. Keith and other leading foodservice companies are all using a common platform to receive up-to-date product information from their suppliers. In addition, Darden Restaurants and UFPC (Yum! Brands) are among the operators using GLNs and GTINs to standardize the way their supply chain community identifies locations and products.

Since the launch of the Initiative, its membership has grown to include 72 – and counting – total members, including ARAMARK, Butterball, Dot Foods, The J.M. Smucker Company, Kraft Foodservice, Subway/IPC, Sysco, Tyson and others.

For the past two years, the Initiative has accomplished a number of key deliverables. It has developed foodservice-specific implementation guides, identified foodservice workflow scenarios within the GDSN, and defined key product data attributes relevant to the foodservice industry.

The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative recently launched four new working groups, including a GLN Task Group for location tracking; a GTIN Allocation Task Group to assist in assigning product ID numbers; a Product Images Task Group for standardizing product images to enhance marketing and sales, and a User Workgroup to share implementation and adoption issues and successes.

Visit to learn more about the Initiative, how to start adopting the GS1 standards, or how to become a member. You can also send an email to foodservice(at)gs1us(dot)org, or contact Julie McGill, jmcgill(at)gs1us(dot)org, 312-463-4032 and Dennis Harrison, dharrison(at)gs1us(dot)org, 609-620-4522.

Note to editors: Photos of Ann Oka, Brendan Foley, and Mike Roach are available upon request.

About GS1 US
GS1 US is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the adoption and implementation of standards-based, global supply-chain solutions. More than 200,000 businesses in 25 industries in the U.S. and two million companies worldwide rely on GS1 US for trading-partner collaboration and for maximizing the cost effectiveness, speed, visibility, and traceability of their goods moving around the world. They achieve these benefits through GS1 US solutions based on GS1 global unique-numbering and identification systems, bar codes, Electronic Product Code-based RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US operates the subsidiaries and brands 1SYNC™; BarCodes and eCom™; EPCglobal US™; GS1 Healthcare US; and RosettaNet. It also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC®) for the UNDP;


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