The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken a major first step to achieve end-to-end food traceability. Those who manufacture, process, pack, or hold food on the Food Traceability List (FTL) will be subject to new recordkeeping requirements during production and along the supply chain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the Food Traceability Final Rule on November 21, 2022, and although the rule only applies to foods on the FTL, the FDA is encouraging voluntary adoption across the food industry.

Agri-food supply chain players should consider their approach to traceability and potential partners to begin devising a plan for current or future implementation, even if their products are not included on the FTL. A great first step would be to connect with food traceability technology providers to understand the tools available and in the development pipeline. Seeking a business case beyond regulatory traceability mandates is important as well, but in agriculture the business case can vary significantly between different supply chains and commodities. The emergence of climate smart agriculture and the growth in consumer interest in sustainability is one potential avenue to seek value.

Market Adoption vs Regulation

The gravitational pull of the consumer and the regulator now and in the future will lead to a transformation of the agri-food value chain over time, but this shift will not happen overnight. Maintaining awareness of the balance between market adoption and regulatory changes remains vital for planning purposes. Blockchain is one of many solutions companies are leveraging to solve this challenge. However, there are major barriers inhibiting wide-scale adoption.

Why it Matters

Even with current challenges, the food system will continue to advance the use of track and trace technology capabilities and a wait, see and react approach to regulatory requirements may not be a winning strategy.

A list of current traceability solution companies and full analysis of blockchain adoption barriers and opportunities are available to Executive Intelligence Network members in the monthly WatchDesk Report. 

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