Guest Column | July 1, 2015

Data Sharing For The Food Industry Will Soon See Significant Changes

By Angela Fernandez, VP of Retail Grocery and Foodservice, GS1 US

For food manufacturers, requests for sharing complete, accurate, and timely product information and images with trading partners, consumers, and regulators have created a challenging business landscape. However, better industry collaboration through data synchronization has led to increased supply chain efficiencies and the ability to satisfy the information demands from these multiple sources.

Since the late 1990s, the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) has provided a standardized way for trading partners to share product information, including a wide variety of product attributes. While the GDSN was first implemented in the retail grocery sector, other industries in the global supply chain have realized its many benefits. In fact, the evolution of GDSN usage is the driving force behind the GDSN Major Release 3.1, taking effect May 6, 2016. The massive upgrade is designed to eliminate current inefficiencies, enhance speed-to-market, and to help companies keep pace with today’s business environment. The GDSN Major Release will help the food industry respond to unprecedented regulatory compliance requirements (e.g., FSMA, FDA menu labeling rules), and a consumer base with an increasingly insatiable thirst for information about the foods they buy and consume.  

Let’s examine GDSN usage, how the Major Release will help manufacturers evolve with the changing times, and how businesses can prepare now to ensure a seamless transition.

How Is The GDSN Used?
The GDSN enables trading partners to globally exchange standardized product information in an automatic and efficient way. With the GDSN, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and operators have access to the same continuously refreshed data. The role of GDSN is to help ensure data is shared between trading partners in accordance with GS1 Standards and connects the physical flow of goods and services to the flow of information. For example, information, such as package measurements, nutrients, ingredients, allergens, and whether the food is gluten-free, Kosher, Halal, vegan, or organic for 579,000 food items is synchronized in the network and the number of items within the network continues to grow every day.

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