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GS1 US Announces Launch of Groundbreaking Foodservice Initiative

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ (Oct. 5)—GS1 US™ announced today that 55 foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators have launched the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, and have funded the GS1 US Team for Foodservice to guide execution. The initiative recommends the adoption of a common timeline for voluntary individual company implementation of GS1 Global standards for company identification, item identification and product description; 45 of the initiative's founding member companies have already voluntarily committed to this common timeline.

Distributors included among the founding member companies include many of the industry's heaviest hitters and most progressive leaders. Among them:

  • Ben E. Keith Foods
  • BiRite Foodservice Distributors
  • Dot Foods Inc.
  • Ellenbee Legget
  • Foodservices of America
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Hawkeye Foodservice Distribution
  • Independent Marketing Alliance
  • Indianhead Foodservice Distributor
  • Maines Paper & Food Service
  • Martin Bros. Distributing co.
  • McLane Foodservice
  • Nicholas & Company
  • Pate Dawson Co.
  • Performance Food Group
  • Reinhart FoodService
  • Shamrock Foods
  • Sysco Corporation
  • UniPro Foodservice
  • U.S. Foodservice

The initiative is striving for 75 percent adoption of GS1 standards throughout the foodservice industry, measured in terms of revenue, by 2015. It is endorsed by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the National Restaurant Association and GS1 Canada Foodservice. Industry organizations and founding members of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative cite three main objectives and industry-wide benefits as a result of companies choosing to adopt and implement GS1 standards:

  • Drive waste out of the foodservice supply chain;
  • Improve product information for customers, and
  • Establish a foundation for improving food safety and traceability.

Dawn Sweeney, president and ceo of the National Restaurant Association, said "The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative will have tremendous benefits for restaurants, their guests and their supply chain, and is an important step forward in our continuing efforts to ensure the highest standards for our industry."

The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative was formed as a result of a strategic planning process facilitated by Future Perfect Consulting Services. During the six-month process, presidents of foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators and their supply chain leaders worked with GS1 US, GS1 Canada and Future Perfect to draft a timeline that individual companies could choose to employ in their voluntary adoption and implementation of GS1 standards.

Daniel Woodside, president and ceo of Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, which manages the supply chain for exclusively for Yum! Brands, said his company fully supports the initiative. "We began our project in 2005 utilizing standardized bar codes on our product cases anticipating benefits for all our business partners. As we now begin to realize some of those benefits, we are excited to share our learnings with the industry and commit our full support.

Founding member manufacturers and distributors agree: "IFMA is fully supportive of voluntary adoption of GS1 standards," said Tom Sampson, president, Kraft North America Foodservice and 2009 IFMA Chairman of the Board. "Based on Kraft's experience implementing these standards in Canada, we know data synchronization not only drives out waste and inefficiencies, it also frees up time for manufacturers to collaborate with customers to drive growth. Voluntary adoption of these standards will also create a common foundation for improved product traceability and communication of nutritional information throughout the supply chain," said Sampson.

"We know our customers need more accurate information," said Larry G. Pulliam, executive vice president, Foodservice Operations, Sysco Corporation. "In addition, our suppliers need it, our associates need it and the industry needs it as well. Through the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, involving leadership from all parts of the supply chain, we commit to adopting GS1 standards to improve food safety and traceability, take cost and complexity out of the supply chain and improve the experience for our customers."

John Martin, ceo of Martin Bros. Distributing Co. and IFDA Chairman of the Board concurred: "We chose GS1 standards because they're in use by more than two million companies worldwide – it takes the guesswork out, so that we can focus on serving customers to the best of our ability. The planning process we engaged in with Future Perfect helped us gain the voluntary commitment of individual companies that we needed to independently adopt GS1 standards along a common timeline."

Near-term steps in the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative timeline include:

  • By Q4 2009: Companies assign GS1 Global Location Numbers to their headquarters.
  • By Q3 2010: Manufacturers assign GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers to products and include them on order guides and other trading-partner documentation.
  • By Q2 2011: Manufacturers and brand owners will publish product and company identification and related logistics information to trading partners. Distributors retrieve product information; populate back end systems and customer product catalogs.

Trading partners choosing to adopt and implement GS1 standards will access standard product information through the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network® (GDSN®), an open platform that ensures continuous real-time exchange of consistent, accurate product information among supply chain partners. Many technology providers are certified to help companies with implementation; certification is required to ensure adherence to GS1 global standards. Committed providers include widely known players in foodservice, including AFS, which announced that it will become certified for GS1 data publishing and retrieval; Aligntrac, which already is certified for GS1 data publishing and retrieval; FSE, which already is certified for data publishing and retrieval and is getting certified to become a GS1 GDSN data pool; 1SYNC, the world's largest GDSN data pool, which also is certified for GS1 data publishing and retrieval; and iTradeNetwork, which will become certified to publish, retrieve and become a GS1 GDSN data pool. GDSN data pools are interoperable—i.e., publishing to one or retrieving data from one means that companies can retrieve data from all GDSN-certified data pools without additional fees.

"We're proud to be a founding member of the Initiative. We believe this is critical for our customers, our suppliers and our company, leading to greater efficiency and ever-improving food safety standards and practices," said Bob Aiken, president and ceo, U.S. Foodservice.

"The scores of foodservice companies voluntarily adopting GS1 standards along a common timeline is a powerful testament to their commitment," said Bob Carpenter, ceo of GS1 US. "We pledge to support foodservice with world class implementation guidance, as we've done for 25 other industries, including the retail food industry."

The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative welcomes the involvement of all foodservice manufacturers, distributors, operators, industry associations and technology providers. Please visit www.gs1us.org/foodservice for more information.

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