The Trading Partner Alliance (TPA) of FMI and GMA has been pressing forward on a number of issues of key importance to the food industry, ranging from product recalls to package labeling, according to SN interviews.
“TPA is creating a powerful dialogue between manufacturers and retailers,” said Scott Schnuck, chairman, Schnuck Markets, and TPA co-chair.
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“We [TPA] accomplished a lot in 2013 and feel good about our progress this year,” said Don Knauss,” chairman and CEO, The Clorox Co, and TPA co-chair.
TPA, comprised of U.S. CEOs of manufacturing and retail companies, began the year by enacting a change that will make it more flexible.
“It has been typically made up of the executive committees of GMA and FMI, but in January we changed the charter a bit to build it out,” said Jim Flannery, GMA EVP, operations and industry collaboration.
“It still has to be U.S. retailer and manufacturer CEOs, but it doesn’t have to be just those companies on each of those executive committees. We’re allowing associations to determine who are the right executives to be on the TPA so it reflects the diversity of our industry” in terms of types of companies.
One of TPA’s recent accomplishments has been with Rapid Recall Exchange, a tool developed in 2009 by GS1 U.S. and FMI in consultation with GMA, Knauss said.
“Adoption and use of RRE has been good, but we knew it could be better,” he said. “With a renewed TPA focus on promoting the system, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the use of RRE, and we’ve developed a scorecard to ensure that we continue to make progress against our goals. The faster manufacturers can communicate information about recalled product to retailers, the faster that product can be removed from shelves. It’s a win for manufacturers, retailers and, most importantly, consumers.”
Another area of progress has been with the Facts Up Front campaign, launched by FMI and GMA in 2011 as a strategy to help consumers embrace healthy diets.
“Today, more than 50 retail and manufacturing companies are implementing Facts Up Front on their private label and nationally branded packages,” Knauss said. “ And on March 3, GMA and FMI launched a robust advertising campaign to generate awareness and understanding of the label among consumers. Retailers will also be doing their part to raise shopper awareness of the program in stores. This is one of the greatest examples of what can be achieved when trading partners work together.”
Anti-counterfeiting efforts are an important topic for TPA because of supply chain challenges, Flannery said.
SOME KEY AREAS OF FOCUS
• Rapid Recall Exchange
• Facts Up Front
• Next Generation Product Identification
• Improving Data Accuracy
“From a regulatory standpoint there are laws to prevent counterfeiting, and from an enforcement standpoint there’s a strong infrastructure, but the problem is the business processes around that enable counterfeit goods to enter the supply chain, which keeps it going,” he said. “We just released a best practices buying guide that focuses on things like authentication steps manufacturers need to take when sourcing their raw materials, and buying practices for retailers when they don’t buy directly from manufacturers.”
Even as TPA makes progress on issues such as Rapid Recall Exchange, Facts Up Front and anti-counterfeiting efforts, it’s been adding to the list of issues to focus on. In January it agreed to move to the project stage with next-generation product identification and data accuracy/emerging data requirements, Flannery said.
Next-generation product identification involves processes and technology to improve the current bar-code standard.
“This is a big one, and it’s a long-term issue,” Schnuck said.
Flannery said this initiative “recognizes that retailers and manufacturers need more information to run their businesses. The bar code is 40 years old.”
TPA is also exploring how to improve data accuracy, which Flannery called “awful.”
Key trading partners will be involved in test programs. “We hope there’s some indication of a scalable solution by January of next year,” he said.
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