Friday, September 14, 2007

The Truth About Food Traceability

Kuang Chuan (dairy products company) recently had a new product on the market, the Blue Label milk. And this particular product claims to be the first milk product to implement a traceability system. A 5 digit alphanumeric code is printed on each bottle underneath its expiration date, and the consumer is able to look up its production history details by entering the code on the company's traceability webpage.

My initial reaction to the Blue Label's traceability feature was how is the customer able to look up the relevant information before their purchase? I then consulted my friend Joseph, who currently works at Kuang Chuan and happens to be familiar with the Blue Label product, and he told me that it is true that their system only allows the customer to look up the data after the purchase. This obviously doesn't make much sense so I asked if they considered using 2D barcodes, and it lead to an interesting discussion about the vendor's point-of-view in regards to food traceability. And the key points / highlights are:

1) Vendors have no interest at all in food traceability because it only adds cost and not revenue
2) Vendors are being forced by the government to implement food traceability systems
3) Consumers do not care about the food production process because what they really want is for all the products to be safe and have someone accountable when something wrong happens (meaning bad products should have never reached the shelves in the first place)

I do agree with Joseph's opinions, but I wanted to try out their traceability system anyway. So I bought a Blue Label and entered its trace code on their website, and indeed I was presented with a lot of information and test data about my bottle of milk. However, I felt it is a little too much data for the average customer to understand and I did not find them particular helpful either.

Kuang Chuan did come up with a way to encourage consumers to try out their traceability system though, they had a mini game on their site in which you can enter your receipt number (the one with your purchase of the Blue Label milk) to see if you won a HTC Touch. Unfortunately, I did not win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog recently as I was doing some research on food traceability. I had a few questions and was wondering what would be the best way to get in contact with you to discuss a few of them?