RCM Technologies Canada has developed a decision support tool that will enable companies to better evaluate and understand the benefits and costs of traceability to their organization. This decision support tool is the result of work that broke new ground in food and produce traceability standards in projects for Can-Trace, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA).

In 2004 RCM was the primary consultant in three pilot projects in partnership with Can-Trace (a national food supply chain tracking and tracing initiative), the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Produce Marketing Association (U.S.).

"Working with Can-Trace, the CPMA and the PMA," said Brian
Sterling, Vice President, and RCM Technologies Canada, "our efforts focused on understanding and completing the development of standards to meet requirements for whole-chain traceability. Every producer, processor, re-packer, distributor and retailer is being affected by the demand for product tracing and tracking. Food industry organizations face significant risks if found non-compliant with regulatory requirements that are changing rapidly.

RCM's Business Case report examines the costs and benefits of implementing traceability. Evidence from several pilots demonstrated that improving product traceability in the Canadian food value chain can deliver net business benefits. Based on these findings, RCM developed their decision support tool.

Four major categories of benefits were identified in the project:

-- Benefits relating to maintaining business and achieving regulatory compliance;
-- Market benefits related to meeting market or customer requirements;
-- Risk and recall benefits from mitigation of potential liabilities; and
-- Supply Chain improvement benefits, from using traceability as a tool to improve business operations, increase product quality and reduce costs.

"Can-Trace's Canadian Food Traceability Data Standard Version 1.0 is groundbreaking - we are not aware of any other country that has attempted to bring together the entire food chain and build a single national traceability data standard. Further, the pilot project results confirmed that the Can-Trace data standard is sufficient to establish traceability," said Jane Proctor, Can-Trace's elected chair, and Director of Industry Technology & Standardization at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. Can-Trace is a collaboration of food supply chain stakeholders from across Canada that convened in response to the Agricultural Policy Framework goal of 80 percent traceability of food sold in Canada by 2008.

Adaptable to different food and agriculture sectors, these
standards are based on a one up/one down model of sharing traceability information, using international data carrier standards. Can-Trace has released reports on the results of beef, pork and produce traceability pilot projects (for which RCM was also involved), the business case for implementing traceability solutions, and traceability requirements specific to Canadian small and medium enterprises (SME).

Copies of the Canadian Food Traceability Data Standard Version 1.0, all Pilot Reports, the Business Case, and SME Report can be downloaded from the Can-Trace web site at www.can-trace.org.

Source: Company Release