retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that “in response to a new federal food safety law and growing consumer interest, vast amounts of new data are being generated about the complicated path that food takes from field to supermarket shelf.

“And, increasingly, some of that information is being offered to curious shoppers, who in some stores can wave a smartphone above an apple or orange and learn instantly where it was grown, who grew it and whether it has been recalled. They can even contact the farmer, if they feel moved.

“A provision of the federal food safety law passed last year requires that all players in the country's food supply chain be able to quickly trace from whom they received a food product and to whom they sent it. They'll have to maintain that information in digital form, creating deep wells of information that, in some cases, consumers could tap into through their computers or cellphones ... But the new law has triggered a small gold rush for technology companies angling for a piece of an emerging market, which covers food other than meat, poultry and egg products. They are competing to develop the tracking technology and manage the data.”
KC's View:
The interesting thing about the story is how much of this technology exists, and just needs to be applied to the important causes of traceability and transparency. I’ve always believed that this is as much a matter as will as capability, and while I do know there are some retailers who think I need to jump off this soapbox - or at least ought to jump up on it a little less often - I’m glad to see that systems are being created that make everyone accountable.