Every time I go to a developing nation, I'm struck not only by how different the cultures are from the west, but literally, how product and food safety standards are non-existent (and certainly not news-worthy). It would not be such a big deal to me if the CNNs and BBCs of the world made such a big stink about a few tainted tomatoes -- or was that jalapenos -- reaching the US border if they also covered the thousands of Westerners who get sick in the second and third worlds everyday. But come on, I can't help but believe that a quarter of the Westerners who stay in China and India, for any period of time, get some type of food-borne illness (unless I'm in the minority). And that goes completed unreported. Though seriously, it's not a big deal - your body clearly adjusts.
In the West, we're bombarded with news about the latest product safety recalls, food-related illness alerts and other news (though we rarely hear about the number of Westerners who die from cancer and heart attacks associated with bad diets). Personally, I'll take a little salmonella over a trip in the ambulance for clogged arteries. Though I am in the minority, any company importing either goods or food products better think long and hard about product traceability and supply risk, lest you become the lead story on one of our major news networks.
What can companies do to get started in this regard? Aravo, among other vendors, has started talking about the concept of Supplier Information Management (SIM for short). I like the notion. It expands on the need to fully manage supplier information outside of just negotiations, transactions and relationships. SIM includes managing certifications, credentials, performance, traceability and risk. It's an early-stage concept but I think it has legs. I know from talking with Aravo and a number of large companies recently, that some very big names in the Global 2000 are starting down the SIM path.They're either going with newly established technology offerings or working with existing technology/content partners to define new solutions based on their specific SIM needs.
- Jason Busch