FSMA Rules Make 2016 ‘Year of the TMS’ for Food Shippers

2016 is shaping up to be the ‘Year of the TMS’ for food shippers – organizations involved in the production, processing, sales, delivery and purveying of food and beverages. 2016 will mark the point in time at which agricultural producers, food product manufacturers, restaurant chains and other large volume food shippers come to terms with the acute need for logistics IT solutions. Why are we making this bold prediction? Follow over the jump for our thinking.

As food industry watchers are aware, there are a number of high profile stories in the news about food producers and the challenges many well-known national brands are facing with regard to contamination events that have sickened scores and even resulted in several deaths. The DOJ has launched an investigation into the highly respected, 109 year-old dairy products brand, Blue Bell Creamery, for an incidence of contaminated ice cream that killed four people and sickened numerous others. Major media outlets have reported on several outbreaks of food-borne illnesses traced back to Chipotle restaurants, also resulting in scores of people sickened after having eaten foods prepared using the locally-sourced organic products for which the ‘Fresh-Mex’ brand is known.

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Better route planning, more precise pickup and delivery scheduling and temperature control monitoring are just some of the activities improved by using logistics IT tools.

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Add to the picture the fact that the Federal Government is finally getting around to fully implementing 2010’s Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to shift the focus from reacting to incidents of food contamination to taking actions to prevent them. The new prevention-minded rules stipulated by the FSMA will naturally emphasize better visibility and control over the entire food supply chain. And chief among the strategies for delivering such visibility and control are technologies like TMS, YMS and transportation optimization tools which are, by design, exceptionally well-suited to ensuring food products (and products supporting food production/manufacture) are moved quickly and efficiently along the supply chain.  Also of great interest to food shippers are TMS solutions that enable management of private fleet activity alongside common carrier movements.

Better route planning, more precise pickup and delivery scheduling and temperature control monitoring are just some of the activities improved by using logistics IT tools. The capture and maintenance of transportation records also makes it easier to identify the sources of contaminated product quickly before tainted foodstuffs are widely distributed making for more proactive management of perishable products.

With so much to lose both in terms of litigation, regulatory fines/fees and most of all brand-damaging negative publicity, 2016 is shaping up to be the year in which food shippers are being compelled to action in protecting their market position from food-borne illness. Just like so many other industries, food shippers’ success or failure rests on a strong and well-managed supply chain.

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