Better sharing of information between rival food companies could save time and money and improve food safety and quality across the industry, says Stefano Crea, global manager of food and beverage at DNV Business Assurance.
Speaking at the recent Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) conference in Barcelona, Crea told FoodNavigator that he would like to see companies using trade organisations and common tools more often to channel information on food safety and quality to the whole industry.
He said that the GFSI has been a major contributor to fostering collaboration within industry, in terms of securing supply chains.
“You can just imagine how much they are fierce competitors when they are on the marketplace, but they are really willing to sit around the same table to develop tools together,” he said.
And major food companies also are helping to improve food safety and quality by adopting standards themselves, and then requiring the same standards of their suppliers.
“They are leading by example by adopting them themselves,” he said.
The fact that food safety is not an area where companies can gain a competitive advantage was a common thread throughout the conference, with several speakers and delegates pointing to crises like the horse meat scandal as evidence that what affects a few players in the supply chain can taint the whole of the supply chain in consumers’ minds.
“We are actively working with main players to work out what can be shared,” said Crea, adding that information sharing could also benefit everyone beyond food safety, by extending into areas like ethical sourcing, sustainability and food adulteration. Companies have a huge volume of information on their suppliers, but they need to find a way to share that information without disclosing any type of confidential material, he said.
“It is a matter of efficiency but also a matter of effectiveness. …Everybody can see a small piece, but together the industry can see the whole picture, as long as they can agree on how to share it.”