Foodservice GS1 US Update: July/August 2013

Posted by IFMA March 06, 2013

Tagged in GS1
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IFDA & IFMA publish this bi-monthly newsletter to keep our members informed about this important industry initiative.

Table of Contents

GDSN Data in Action - Cool Tools for Foodservice
Preliminary Results Shared from SCORE Data Integrity Pilot
Operator Activity Gaining Momentum
QSCC and Maines Paper & Food Service Discuss Standards at NRA Supply Chain Group
Updated Product Images Guide Now Available  

GDSN Data in Action - Cool Tools for Foodservice
In a "cool tools for foodservice" session at the recent GS1 Connect Conference, top foodservice companies demonstrated how they are sharing Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN) data with customers and consumers.

Jason Gunn, supplier development specialist at US Foods, and Lisa Lee, director of master data management at Performance Food Group, shared what their companies are doing with mobile apps and web-based product sell sheets that access information published in the GDSN.

"This is what our customers want," Lee said. "We are constantly getting requests for product information such as nutritionals and allergens from hospital groups and other operators. They want cleansed data and better images, and they want to be able to browse through our catalogue via tablet or phone."

Said Gunn: "Customers are conditioned to have more information at their fingertips, day or night." Mobile apps with product information pages accessing the GDSN can be similar to using Google. Like a Google search, the program employed by US Foods uses search engine optimization to ensure the top searches come up first. "Our sales reps and customers demand access to GDSN product information through multiple channels - PC, mobile, or tablet," said Gunn.

By leveraging this technology, manufacturers, distributors, and operators can spend more time building their business, Gunn and Lee both stated.

Charles Rodgers, director of data integration at Compass Group North America, also took part in the session. Compass serves six million meals a day across 48 states and has partnered with, a weight management mobile app, which can access Compass' dining websites for nutritional information when students or other customers use in-store kiosks, go online, or scan QR codes in cafeterias using their mobile phones. These dining websites provide the most up-to-date meal information using information populated by the GDSN.

"Nearly all Americans are trying to improve at least one aspect of their eating habits these days," said Rodgers, who shared a recent poll result showing that nearly six in ten Americans believe that online and mobile tools can help them live healthier lifestyles. In addition to allergen and nutritional information, Compass customers are also asking about the source of their food, such as farms and fisheries, said Rodgers. Top

Preliminary Results Shared from SCORE Data Integrity Pilot
A data integrity pilot has been underway for six months to audit and analyze data defects that became apparent as more manufacturers upload Phase 1 transactional information into the GS1 Data Synchronisation Network. Under the auspices of IFDA and IFMA, eight manufacturers and five distributors participated in the pilot, where distributors tested case data. In total, 13 validation points were tested on 1487 cases including GTIN, manufacturer item number, weight, and dimensions.

To measure accuracy on GTIN and Item Number was simply an issue of verifying that the information printed on the case matched GDSN data. Individual dimensions in HWL were measured, with dry and fresh items being allowed up to four percent leeway (high or low) before a measure was considered out of tolerance. Weight for dry and fresh also had four percent leeway, while weight on frozen items had up to six percent leeway. Any discrepancies were reported back to the manufacturer, who then verified the discrepancy.

In the end, there were a significant number of data integrity issues in the areas of weight and dimensions. Human error was largely to blame for measurement discrepancies and included problems with measurement tool placement and angle of measurement, as well as errors in "fraction to decimal" conversions. Even when technology such as Cubiscan was used, there were challenges with instrument sensitivity to packaging irregularities, as well as an apparent need for proper training and calibration of the instrument. It also became clear during the pilot that co-packers must be brought up to speed on the importance of submitting accurate attributes under GS1 standards.

Though it is not one of the more critical attributes, pilot results measuring accuracy of manufacturer numbers on packages is illustrative. These numbers only matched GDSN data 58 percent of the time, a poor showing, but the details reveal simple errors that should be easy to correct now that they are identified. Many of the manufacturer numbers were off by one digit, having dropped a zero at the beginning of the code. Others used only a portion of the code. The most frequent reason for the code being incorrect was that it was intended for "internal use only."

Other accuracy rate findings from the pilot include GTIN Accuracy at 81.6%, Weight at 77.3%, Width at 88.3%, Length at 88.6%, and Height at 78.8%. As in the accuracy rate for "manufacturer number," there were concrete reasons identified for any failures, providing a clear path for improvement.

Preliminary pilot results and the pilot's methodology were shared at the recent GS1 Connect conference by representatives from Bush Brothers & Company, Food Services of America, Ecolab, and IFDA. The pilot group is currently preparing a manual for the industry that will include background and results of the initiative, audit procedures and controls (such as detailed instructions on measuring a package), and final audit results. Top

Operator Activity Gaining Momentum 
A number of leading foodservice operators were part of the agenda at GS1 Connect. Following are quick snapshots, from writer Amelia Levin, on what these companies shared at the conference.

DineEquity, the parent company of IHOP and Applebee's has requested that its propriety suppliers use the GS1-128 bar code.  In fact, "case level traceability from the supply facility to the restaurant is our Holy Grail," stated Brad Clem, quality systems manager at DineEquity during a GS1 Connect session. "There is a need for operators to have a consistent standard for supplier manufacturers so they don't have to change things from one operator to another. That helps us improve traceability, and that's why we're asking for the GS1-128 bar code."

Subway/IPC has stepped up activity in the Initiative, requesting its suppliers use the GS1-128 barcode to be able to trace manufacturer lot numbers, production dates and times, and expiration dates as a proactive measure toward improving recall capability. "Traceability is a must for us in terms of protecting our brand," said Rick Buttner, director of quality at the Independent Purchasing Coop.  "Right now our distribution and logistics team cannot wait for us to get clean, accurate data in their systems. Data synchronization is very important to the distributor as well."

Sodexo has a GDSN focus on accessing better nutritional information in light of recent school foodservice legislation and the demands they are getting from operator customers, explained Frank Griffith, senior director of integrated procurement systems at Sodexo. In a pilot with iTradeNetwork, the company is able to access the GDSN for its back-end systems and use that information to populate recipe and menu development programs. "We want to be able to do comparisons between products," Griffith said, which might include comparing chicken breasts to see which product fits the sodium guideline for a school foodservice operation.

Compass Group has taken similar measures, developing a proprietary intranet system to download nutritional and allergen information via the GDSN (through data pool provider FSEnet+) to adhere to new federal regulations for the National School Lunch program, as well as to populate dining websites at Compass college and university accounts. Top

QSCC and Maines Paper & Food Service Discuss Standards at NRA Supply Chain Group 
In mid-May, an NRA Supply Chain Management Executive Study Group meeting included a Foodservice GS1 US Standards panel discussion led by Gary Fleming, vice president of strategic services at RedLine Solutions.

Panelist John Inwright, president of Quality Supply Chain Cooperation (Wendy's Coop), said major pluses of using the GS1-128 bar code is being able to better manage expiration dates, having improved visibility for recalls, and being able to study the effectiveness of limited time offers.

"In the world of QSR and chain casual dining, one thing we deal with regularly is limited time offers," said Inwright. "By knowing where our products are, we might find out that a small town in New Jersey is selling X more product than everyone else and by the way, our Miami stores are only selling X amount of the product."

Having product scanned via barcode at every level of the supply chain also has a significant impact on food safety. "By having systems in place where we can know at any point where products are delivered-and know the particular manufacturer and the particular plant at a particular hour and day that had the issue-helps us isolate the product in a recall to significantly reduce waste," Inwright said. Otherwise, it's a matter of going through 6,200 restaurants to look for that one product. "If we have better visibility, we might be able to pinpoint just 32 restaurants that have the product in question and recover it from there. That helps us avoid tremendous costs."

From a distributor standpoint, a big benefit of the standards is that data coming in from the manufacturer via the GDSN eliminates significant waste, said Chris Mellon, president and CEO of Maines Paper and Food Service. Not having one language or standard costs time and money.

"Think about what we invest in our warehouse management systems to receive an item number from a manufacturer, map it over into our item number, and then plug it into sophisticated algorithms to print out a unique barcode that has to go on the case. With that type of system, we have about one mispick per 8,000 cases. When we do the scanning with GS1 bar codes we get a 1 in 100,000 case mispick rate, which is one mispick per 100 fully loaded trucks.

"The overriding theme here is process efficiency," said Mellon. "If we can eliminate the process of having to create and place a bar code on ourselves, we reduce cost and deliver better to our customers, many of whom are franchisees who rely on us for efficiency."

Panelist Julie McGill, director of foodservice at GS1 US pointed out that Dot Foods is actively working with manufacturers to access GDSN information, including nutritionals, ingredient lists, and allergens. "Dot is populating their online customer tools with information coming directly from manufacturers," she said. That fully populated product information on the Dot portal is good for sales and for the customer, and reduced the number of calls for product information that Dot was receiving at their support center, said McGill.

Collaboration is key to further adoption, Inwright concluded. "This whole Initiative is about getting alignment across all trading partners so we truly have an understanding of what it is we're trading," he said. Top

Updated Product Images Guide Now Available
Version 2.0 of the Product Images Application Guideline is now available and includes a new section that highlights how to publish images in the GDSN. Topics covered by the new section include:

  • Preparing image files for publication
  • Populating the publication attributes
  • Generating a valid URL for the image link
  • Publishing image links in a multi-level product, and
  • Understanding image lifecycle

Version 2 also includes updates from approved GSMP Work Requests covering Clipping Paths, Image Size, File Format, Color Mode, as well as additional Character Values.  The file naming section has also been updated. Overall, the guidelines support the delivery of quality digital foodservice images and promote consistency in industry practices for image requests, format and imaging requirements, and the management of new and updated item images.

To access the new version of the Product Images Application Guideline, click here to access the "Tools and Resources" page at the GS1 website, then select the seventh item under "GDSN."Top

If you are a manufacturer, operator, or distributor interested in taking part in the GS1 US Standards Initiative, contact Julie McGill, Industry Engagement Director, GS1 US (312) 463-4032,

This newsletter is produced and distributed by the
International Foodservice Distributors Association and the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. | |

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