Coffee Talk: How Has Big Data Changed Food Safety and Quality?

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Big data isn’t a new term nor a new concept for anyone in the business world. Like many industries, food manufacturing, processing, and distribution companies struggle with a flood of documents daily. And that makes working with those records difficult, if not impossible, without the right tools.

But how has big data affected food safety and quality? We asked TraceGains CEO Gary Nowacki to share his insights.

The term “big data” can be a scary phrase that conjures up images of government surveillance and privacy issues. However, the phrase also can be used as a framework for companies to organize critical information better.

In the food business, it’s common for brands to have vital product and quality information scattered across various documents. With big data, most people appreciate the value of having reportable, searchable, and actionable intelligence maintained in a central database.

So, the question is: How do you centralize all that information to leverage it for quality and safety?

If this data isn’t organized correctly, how does it help with quality and safety?

You put your finger on the problem. Companies struggle to sift through all this data and these documents. They can get the answers they’re looking for with enough time and resources, but it’s inefficient. And since time is money, it’s also expensive.

What’s the promise of big data?

It takes all that data and puts it into a centralized database. That’s what we do at TraceGains. We don’t just extract the data from incoming documents. We build a centralized database to accurately report, search, and use the data. A good, clean, centralized database like this leads to enhanced proactive powers and reactive powers.

Can you be more specific?

Let me clarify, not from my standpoint, but from what we hear across our customer base. Almost every food exec we talk to is interested in proactively scorecarding their suppliers and proactively identifying the hottest risk points in their supply chain, some of which include risk profiling. So, we have standard reports and dashboards that do both. They’re a massive hit with our customers because these tools allow them to be highly proactive. On the reactive side, people want to manage by exception and get instant alerts only when there’s a real problem. So, our customers like that we can instantly notify them, for example, if an incoming raw material lot fails to meet their specifications.

What advantage would the CEO see with big data?

Trust me, the typical food company C-suite is already thinking about big data in terms of customers, sales, and markof ceting. It comes up in areas like point of sales (POS) systems, trade promotions, advertising budgets, shelf space, consumer behavior, and more.

The typical food CEO doesn’t have a problem discussing or embracing this intelligence for another part of the company. It’s merely the job of food quality, safety, and regulatory people to illuminate how data can help in critical areas. It’s all about profits, and any application of that information that either increases revenue or decreases cost can capture the ear of a CEO.

Why not make your data actionable? Supplier Management digitizes data mining and trend analysis documents to drive continuous process improvement.