Food In Canada


How traceability can increase profitability

In her new column, Birgit Blain discusses ways in which food processors can turn traceability requirements into a positive, value-added proposition

Highly publicized food borne illness outbreaks and recalls have weakened consumer trust in the safety of our food system. This has given rise to Canadian and U.S. government initiatives focusing on food safety and traceability.


Food processors and brand owners undoubtedly view this as unnecessary added cost and red tape, further impacting their efficiency and ability to compete. How can food processors turn this into a positive, value-added proposition?


Judith Kirkness, author of The Traceability Factor, a comprehensive guide for food processors, shared her insights at the 10th Annual North American Food Safety Summit.


For traceability purposes, food processors must collect and track information related to:


  • Receiving and storage of raw materials
  • Manufacturing and storing interim and finished goods
  • Shipping finished goods


The data sits in individual silos. Connecting those silos of information enables food processors to identify and correct inefficiencies. That’s what traceability technology can do for you.




By automating the traceability process businesses can:


  1. Respond quickly to recalls. Bad news spreads like wildfire through social media. In the event of a recall, traceability information is at your fingertips, saving precious time and reducing stress.
  2. Calculate accurate costing for raw ingredients, batches, work in progress and finished goods. Knowing the true product cost is critical for improving profitability.
  3. Monitor yield by comparing inputs and outputs to reduce waste.
  4. Reduce errors and manual data entry.
  5. Improve inventory management.
  6. Report profitability by product and customer, also factoring in marketing program costs.


Return on investment


Admittedly, it’s a big investment, but it can pay for itself through:


  • Increased manufacturing efficiency
  • Labour productivity enhancement
  • Reduced waste
  • Improved product quality
  • Reduced risks


An added bonus is the protection of your brand and building customer trust.




There are a variety of hardware and software solutions on the market, each with their own capabilities and features. The technology package is customized for the food processor’s unique requirements. Ask service providers for a free assessment, to compare apples to oranges and find the right solution for your business.




Government funding programs like Growing Forward 2 from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) can dramatically offset the technology cost. For information visit




Where to start? These publications will help you to get informed and learn what questions to ask:


The Traceability Factor

Traceability for Dummies (free download)


Traceability is not only a legal obligation for food processors and brand owners, it’s an investment that will strengthen your business and your brand.


P.S. Judith Kirkness is offering Canadian food processors a complimentary copy of her book The Traceability Factor. It’s an excellent resource and must-read for any food business. Call Minotaur Software at (905) 458-7575 or 1-800-668-1284. Ask for Judith and mention Food in Canada. There is absolutely no obligation. Offer is available while supplies last.


Birgit Blain is president of Birgit Blain & Associates Inc., food business specialists, helping brand owners break down barriers and position their brands for growth. Her experience includes 17 years in the grocery trade with Loblaw Companies and President’s Choice. Her extensive knowledge base spans product management, account management and food retailing. Contact her at [email protected]

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