When a company imports more than 100 million pounds of seafood every year from waters around the world, offering products represented by about 1,500 SKUs, it has the potential to drown in product data. Data cascades from the point of origin to a warehouse, a distribution center and a processing plant to other distribution points — all connected by shippers to a stockroom, a frozen food aisle and into a consumer’s hands. Everywhere along the way, inaccurate product data can churn up waves of problems.

Beaver Street Fisheries (BSF) of Jacksonville, Fla., realized early its trading partners would require supply chain standards to communicate key information about products as they move through the supply chain. BSF also knew that with the technology available, government traceability mandates would significantly increase, in the U.S and abroad, making compliance-based accurate product data a survival skill. Becoming a member of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, Beaver Street Fisheries launched an ambitious and comprehensive data governance initiative leveraging GS1 Standards and following industry-developed best practices.

GS1 Standards are the most widely used supply chain standards in the world. They uniquely identify products in the supply chain in order to drive supply chain visibility and efficiency. Standards are designed to overcome the limitations of using company, organization or sector-specific coding systems, and to make commerce more efficient and responsive to customers. More and more today, consumers are scrutinizing the seafood supply chain and have come to expect information transparency.

“People rightfully want to know what they’re eating, where it was caught,” says Ray M. Poinsette, director of process improvement, BSF. “There’s the traceability aspect and food safety mandates. Then there’s the marketing aspect: They want the ‘glamour’ shot, they need a plated shot, they need all of these things that we have to synchronize.”

BSF’s data quality program has resulted in a wealth of accurate product data that follows each product from one end of the supply chain to the other, winning BSF awards from its customers, the highest accolades for any organization. As empowered consumers seek product information through the Internet and social media, using mobile devices and computers, BSF as an early adopter of a solid data governance model stands ready with a “single version of truth.” Logistical, nutritional and ingredient details are accompanied by images, rich content and marketing information, making BSF a desired trading partner.

 “We saw an error rate of up to 27 percent go down to less than a 1 percent error rate by understanding standards, by synchronizing our information, by publishing what items and attributes should be,” Poinsette says.

GS1 US offers two collaborative industry initiatives for companies looking to similarly streamline supply chain business processes for improved data quality. For more information about the GS1 US Retail Grocery Initiative, visit www.gs1us.org/retailgrocery. Visit www.gs1us.org/foodservice to learn about the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative. Contact Angela Fernandez at afernandez@gs1us.org or 1-609-620-4506 with any questions about the initiatives. NP