Pieter Maarleveld, GS1:

"Identification and information are future factors for success"

Information becomes increasingly important, also in fresh produce labelling. In addition to legislation regarding traceability becoming ever stricter, Pieter Maarleveld, CEO of GS1 Netherlands, also sees consumers asking for more and more product information. At the 1st EU Forum Fresh Info Forum & Round Table in Rotterdam, this subject will be on the agenda. Pieter Maarleveld talks about the importance of standardized information and digitization of label information.

"Information by the chain becomes ever more important, and developments are going quickly," Pieter knows. For an international sector like fresh produce, it's especially important that a standard be developed. That is what GS1 is working on: developing standards for product information. GS1 is doing this at three levels: national, European, and global. At a national level, the national departments are working on implementation of the standards. "Because a standard is useless if it isn't used."

Difficult process
At a European level, GS1 works on standardization of recording label information. One level higher, GS1 works on the ultimate goal: a global standard. It's not easy to get everyone in line. Pieter compares this to the standardization of the bar code.

"Our roots are with the bar codes. Back then, it also took a number of years before everyone in Europe were convinced, so that the American standard could be adopted. Eventually, we're also aiming for a worldwide standard now, but there's still a long way to go."

Developments regarding information exchange are going fast. Originally, it involved bilateral agreements between a retailer and a grower. "The importance of standardization is becoming ever bigger. If a grower has to supply the same information for different customers in a slightly different format, a standard is the solution."

Stricter regulation
In addition, rules are becoming stricter. "Now, with traceability, one has to be able to look one link back and one link ahead in the chain. That means that a company has to be able to show where a product comes from and to whom the product is sold. I foresee that this will play an increasingly bigger role in future, with information from the entire chain having to be available." One document or database in which the whole road from grower to consumer can be traced.

On December 13, new EU legislation comes into force. From that day on, the label information that's on a product also needs to be available in web shops. "In the past, it sufficed to give that information on the label, from December 13 on that information also needs to be available with products in the web shops." To be able to satisfy that demand, a lot of work has been done in the past two years to digitize this information in the GS1 Data Source data pool, in which label information for 60,000 products has now been collected.

"Identification and information are the factors of success for companies to be able to operate efficiently and reliably. In addition, fresh is an important product group for retail, in which supermarkets can distinguish themselves. One retailer once told me: you don't just buy the product, but the information as well."

Register here to hear Pieter Maarleveld and other speakers during the EU Fresh Info:
www.frugicom.nl/EUforum

Freshplaza is media partner of the event

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