How Track & Trace Technology Empowers Recall Management to Protect Brand Legacy

By Christian-Uwe Rogers-Neu, Track & Trace Expert

I bet most of you never wasted a moment thinking, “Is this safe to eat?” when sitting down to a meal. Food and beverage companies spend a lot of effort and money on processes that ensure safe products go to market. Thanks to the regulated quality assurances of growers and processors with their quality systems and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), we can consume products with confidence that they are safe. Brands or company names have a promise of quality with a higher mission to safeguard every consumer from any harm.

But sometimes, even the best systems fail. Due to the increasing complexity of the supply chain, it is more and more challenging to reduce or eliminate the risk of contamination or mislabeling. Multiple safety systems keep most incidents in check, yet stakeholders need a holistic view of the supply chain to protect consumers and brands. According to the FDA, 60% of recalls are due to wrong labeling, primarily because of undeclared allergens but also recalls based on contamination through
• listeria
• salmonella
• other foreign materials occur.[1]

Even though each recall case is different, most recalls have these things in common: Huge damage to the brand reputation and, in some cases, the end of a company legacy.

Did you know that the average cost for a food producer’s recall is $10 million in direct costs? This figure doesn’t account for any potential brand damage or lost sales.[2] Some recalls can not only lead to lost consumers’ trust but also due to late notice and slow reaction time, it can lead to deaths. Companies can add another layer of protection with traceability software for food producers and manufacturers.

Building A Better Recall Management Program

Track and trace technology helps companies react faster due to gained visibility of their ingredients and finished products. While minimizing the costs of recalls through increased transparency, companies can also show they respond quickly to keep consumers’ trust and their brand reputation high. There is an SAP software solution set that I want to highlight which offers all capabilities to enhance your recall management.

SAP Global Batch Traceability (SAP GBT) is a software solution that offers all capabilities to enhance your recall management. It delivers insights about which batch was added to which product, mapping granularly for every movement of your products inside your manufacturing plant, down to the item level. At the same time, SAP Logistics Business Network Material Traceability (SAP LBN MT) enables you to trace back every ingredient to its origin, giving a new level of visibility into the entire supply chain. SAP LBN captures and manages data automatically in a secured multigradient blockchain ledger. With this food traceability software, tracking and tracing can start at the farm, through every level of processing until the final product rolls off the line.
This “digital fingerprint” helps producers access all the regulated and key information immediately like certifications, allergic information, CO² footprints or water consumption from suppliers. The comprehensive record empowers companies to take immediate action when an exception occurs. If you wish, you can share this information with your consumers to gain additional trust and loyalty towards your brand.

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Figure 1: Stakeholder Needs in the Supply Chain, SAP

When paired with SAP GBT and SAP LBN MT, SAP Corporate Serialization (SAP CorS) provides a way to understand each customer better. This solution offers item-level serialization that helps you have direct customer interactions, such as asking questions or polls, to get valuable insights and usage data about your consumers. Motivating people with a reward program by scanning the codes can offer great benefits and increase customer retention. SAP Corporate Serialization supports your company in the efforts fighting food fraud and gray markets while building additional safeguards against piracy and counterfeiting of products to protect your brand. This set of SAP software allows you to address the needs of all stakeholders within your supply chain network.

For a holistic track and trace system that includes end-to-end food traceability and recall management software, SAP Logistics Business Network for Global Track and Trace (SAP GTT) allows you to have a centralized and complete overview of all your shipments. It enables real-time visibility paired with additional insights, such as monitoring temperature levels while watching your truck or ship moves through supply chain transportation. If a condition is breached, an alert notification is sent so you can determine if it requires immediate action. One example is a delay caused by traffic. You can now provide a new ETA so that the customer does not worry. Another example is to prevent unsafe products from being sold because the appropriate temperature wasn’t maintained. This real-time information could prevent the recall and help keep delivery promises to your clients. Another example is you can easily map the CO² footprint of your products with the exact route the item took until reaching its destination. Lastly, with a click of a button, you can know which products went where, allowing you to narrow your recall case.

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Figure 2: SAP LBN Global Situation Room

Recalls cannot be prevented from happening; however, thanks to track and trace technology and recall management software, we can make it easier to capture information and report occurrences that can trigger a fast call to action which should keep the impact as small as possible for all stakeholders and consumers. Beyond this important task, the solutions allow you to make more out of the data than just supporting a recall case. You can invite consumers to participate in the product journey by showing them why your product is the right choice because of its quality, sustainability and origin. For example, you can capture scope 3 emissions which make up to 90% of a company’s emissions (a major part are transportation and distribution emissions, up and downstream). All the solutions are flexible and scalable, so they can grow with you.

If you are interested in a deeper look at  food traceability and recall management solutions or want to discuss options for your product digitalization journey, it will be our pleasure to walk this path together. Don’t miss the chance to hear more about food traceability and how to increase supply chain visibility for better recall management in our webinar on October 13th at 10 AM ET.


[1] Statista: Leading causes of food recalls in the United States 
[2] Food Safety Magazine: Recall: The Food Industry’s Biggest Threat to Profitability