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2022 IFPS Sustainability Symposium

November 10, 2022, 11:00 AM EST - 2:30 PM EST



Getting Blockchain Ready : Three Conceptual Overhaul Suggestions

By Dr. Hans Maurer, New Zealand IFPS Director and chair of the Chain Information Management Committee

In my earlier comment piece entitled "Blockchain: myth or salvation?", I touched upon the need for a conceptual overhaul in the way our industry works to give Blockchain technology a chance to succeed. 

Three suggestions for such an overhaul are the need to accept GS1 standards as an integral part of product and grower identification; to settle upon an appropriate and consistent procurement strategy and then stick to it; and, to adopt the 7th Principle of Supply Chain Management (Anderson et al, 1997).


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During the global working session Fresh Produce Standards in Venlo  Septem-ber 2012 an European GS1 Fruit & Vegetables Working Group has been initiat-ed. This group, GS1 in Europe - Fruit & Vegetables GS1 standards deployment in Europe, was set up to ensure a harmonised implementation of the GS1 Sys-tem in the fruit and vegetables sector. Apart from European GS1 organizations, major industry associations like the International Federation for Produce Stand-ards (IFPS), Freshfel Europe , Frug I Com,  important user companies from the retailer and supplier communities are key stakeholders of the working group. 

The fruit and vegetables business is not a national, but a global business with suppliers from all parts of the world, which need to make efficient trade and fresh produce. At the Fruit Logistica 2013 the fruit and vegetables industry and GS1 starts to work together on implementing the GS1 system (especially GS1 keys like GTIN and GLN) to improve the efficiency of the supply chain from grower to retailer. Now, there is a need to build a common European framework to ensure alignment in the implementation of GS1 standards and avoid diver-gences in the deployment of the GS1 system especially upstream: 
• Common European platform to gather and share European require-ments;
• One European voice in global standardization and coordination;
• Participation of industry (producer, supplier, retailer) and associations (Freshfel Europe, IFPS, Frug I Com, Edeka, Metro, Rewe, etc.);
• Common implementation guidelines across Europe. 

As a part of this common European framework there is a need for alignment of electronic messaging, because customers expect from fruit and vegetable sup-pliers the implementation of electronic processes including: 
• Use of GTIN for article identification, as the basis for all optimization is a correctly allocated GTIN
• Right use of Global Location Numbers (GLN) along the supply chain
• Labeling of trade units and pallets according to GS1 Standards (incl. GS1 DataBar, Pallet label)
• Standardized electronic  master data information exchange
• EDI-messaging for ordering, despatch advice, invoicing, etc.
• Fruit and vegetables more efficiently ordered, received, labeled and traced – based on the same global standards like other food products in the consumer goods sector. 

Providing implementation guidelines according to European requirements and legislation as well as supporting the key stakeholders in implementation will be the main objectives of the group. All solutions and standards should be based on global standards and the implementation guidelines supported by the fruit and vegetable industry provided by GS1 Global Office, fulfilling all European requirements. 

Companies and associations which are willing to work together on this objective are welcome.

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