The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • The Case for Dairy Traceability

    By Jeremy Travis September 10, 2013

    Enhanced traceability is about improving customer and consumer confidence together.

    The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, a pre-competitive forum for the industry established by America’s dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff program, is poised to unveil final voluntary advanced traceability guidelines on Sept. 10. If dairy processors are still worried about the costs and commitment, they needn’t be.

    Advanced traceability requires no major investments in advanced technology. You can accomplish it with pencil and paper. It does require management and staff commitment, but as Hilmar found when we adopted a food-safety-based quality standard a decade ago and subsequently embraced advanced traceability wholeheartedly, the value delivered more than justifies the effort.


    Enhanced traceability improved our recordkeeping, ensured that our process of managing our ins and outs was timely and effective, significantly upgraded our lot and material usage control and helped us better understand exactly what went into each product. Just as the flow of information through the food supply chain improved, so did our internal flow, from sourcing and warehousing through production, qualification of finished products, shipping and delivery.

    Furthermore, customers today—particularly those overseas—expect enhanced traceability. Companies that can deliver it gain a competitive edge.

    We have the opportunity to create our own rules on dairy traceability. Our voluntary practices can become official public policy via the Food Safety Modernization Act by convincing FDA of their merits. But it requires all dairy processors’ participation. Enhanced traceability is about an industry improving customer and consumer confidence together.

    There is a short window of opportunity for industry action, so when Sept. 10 comes we need to act. The more buy-in the FDA sees from dairy processors, the more effective all of us will be.

    (Jeremy Travis is vice president of operations, Hilmar Cheese Co., and a member of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Traceability Subcommittee. This article first appeared in the September 2013 edition of Export Profile.)

    Image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products.   



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