By Melissa Lind, contributing writer
Increased regulatory demands have produced a need for expanded traceability technologies. This has been compounded by a rapidly-growing demand for foods sourced from global locales. The food-traceability market is currently growing at about 9 percent annually with no slowdown in sight.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), like similar requirements in countries outside of the U.S., has shifted the focus in the food supply chain from reaction to prevention. Food traceability means are necessary not only to meet regulations, but to prevent costly and dangerous recalls of food products due to contamination, spoilage, and/or other concerns.
Food Traceability Market Size
With the global market for food traceability technologies already expected to reach over $11.1 billion in 2015, the market will be adding $1 billion or more in value annually. A portion of this growth will come from developed regions such as North America and Europe, but a larger percentage will come from areas such as South America, Asia-Pacific, and Africa. These lesser-developed areas have recently come into global focus with the ability to produce needed foodstuffs, but have traditionally had a limited audience due to low-level technology in food safety, storage, and transport.
As more food products are exported to the U.S. and other well-developed markets, these areas need to comply with traceability requirements of countries that are importing those goods. While much of the foundation of the standards will come from global and regional authorities, these areas also have to improve their own standards.
The Need For Global Standards
Establishing traceability standards — and the technology to support those standards — does have some upfront costs, but may allow export producers to expand production in low-tech markets. The main concern may be in matching up regional standards with those of other countries. Differing methods and stringency of requirements become an issue when an area with little traceability structure exports to a more stringent location. In addition, even within the well-developed markets, disparity between traceability methods and standards still exist.
Examples of the non-match are the disparity between import regulations for Canada and the U.S. which are only moderately stringent vs. much more strict European standards. Other markets also show disparity, such as the highly-developed livestock tracking technology used in the EU vs. a very regressive tracking system in China. Implementation of worldwide standards would solve many of these issues, but certain governments have been reluctant to go full-force on adopting any global standards, which provide very few choices.
This reluctance is in part compounded by the fact that Europe is generally more aggressive in its approach. It seems as if even regions with well-developed standards will have to increase the level of traceability and other requirements to meet an EU developed standard. Countries with little-to-no standardization will have a long way to go.
In order to continue to meet the growing demands, higher-tech countries may have to aid less-developed regions in process development in order to continue and expand importing of affected products.