NEW YORK — The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, will conduct a multi-store pilot project in the first quarter of 2012 to validate new enhancements to a standard for fresh item management (FIM) intended to improve product safety and traceability.
The standard was developed by the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), the standards division of the National Retail Federation. Following the Kroger test, ARTS will publish the enhanced standard for use by the industry.
The FIM Standard version 2.0, when incorporated by technology suppliers, will make it easier for retailers to capture precise tracking information on fresh foods, such as lot and batch data, from product source to consumer purchase.
The standard, for example, will improve the ability to track fresh food items through multiple transformations at the warehouse and store.
“There needs to be a continuity of batch and lot numbers on [perishable] products through rework and rewraps,” said Frank Urbaniak, consulting principal, C-Core Consulting Group, during a presentation this month at the NRF’s Annual Convention and Expo here; he is part of the ARTS subcommittee developing the FIM Standard.
“At Kroger we’re going to make sure we have all the data elements — sell-by dates, lot number and batch number — and can transfer that information from a receiving system to a scale for any products it’s associated with,” said Urbaniak, adding that ARTS is seeking more retailers to validate use cases.
In the case of recalls, this level of detail will permit retailers and manufacturers to identify only potentially contaminated products without destroying safe items, said ARTS. “It’s extremely valuable to be able to hone in on only those products that are being recalled and will help minimize the disruption that customers experience when a product becomes unavailable as a result of a recall,” said Francisca Vicente, IT Business Analyst at El Corte Inglés and a participant in the FIM subcommittee.
The standard will also prevent sales of recalled product at the POS, and it has the potential to allow retailers to notify loyalty-card consumers who have purchased a recalled product, said Urbaniak.