I have been involved in the Consumer Goods Industry for almost 43 years and in all that time, I have never experienced a situation like we have today with the COVID-19 crisis. There is a lesson to be learned in this: consumer health and safety is protected when we ensure our industry is both ready and responsive.
The past few months have taught us that we have the responsibility for our customers and the consuming public to BE READY and BE RESPONSIVE when disruptive health or safety issues hit our business.
Some of these disruptions are out of our control; others can be anticipated.
I am here today to encourage you and your company to play your part and improve our industry’s ability to BE READY and BE RESPONSIVE to consumer product health or safety issues, when a product, for whatever reason, needs to be removed from the value chain. Be a part of a Recall Ready™ community.
A Brand is Built on Trust
The very foundation of a brand’s relationship with a consumer is trust. Trust that products are safe and trust that products perform as promised. Our industry has spent countless hours and dollars to ensure safety and quality are built into each and every product. Consumers trust our brands and stores because we deliver on our promise of quality and safety.
But every once in a while, something goes wrong. Foreign material can get into the product as it is produced, foodborne bacteria can contaminate a product, or an allergen can inadvertently be undeclared on a label.
The good news is this “every once in a while” is very infrequent. In the last three years, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has posted 811 Food / Beverage recalls. These recalls came from 570 different food companies out of the tens of thousands the FDA has registered. That means that a typical company or recall initiator only has to execute a recall once every three years or even less frequently.
At the other end of the supply chain, retailers have to manage many or most these recalls; averaging two per week!
There is a huge challenge in this: because recalls happen so infrequently for a given manufacturer they are often managed in a crisis mode with inconsistent processes, complex communication and occasionally inaccurate or incomplete information.
Your Brand at Risk
As the clock ticks, brand value starts to erode and the costs of recovery start to climb. All the work to get products to market now has to be undone with equal levels of efficiency and performance. Time is of the essence.
Research indicates that the average recall costs a business ten million dollars. If that’s not staggering enough, a correlation exists between the speed of a recall and its total cost, compounded by lost trust with consumers.
BE READY. All participants in the consumer products industry should make recall preparation a normal business process to avoid a crisis. Practicing the recall plan with Mock Recalls twice each year per production location moves a recall event from crisis mode to normal business process that is learned by whoever is in a role touched by a recall.
BE RESPONSIVE. There are technologies and best practices that enable fast and accurate communication and help ensure intended product is removed from the value chain. When a recall is needed
All the information must be communicated and maintained clearly and accurately. What products are impacted, where is that product in the supply chain and what should be done with it. Today, communication is often a series of hand-offs from a recall initiator to a relationship manager at an impacted retailer to a supply chain leader. A single-source-of-truth accessed by all who need that information significantly reduces the risk of miscommunication.
The information must be communicated quickly. Significant product recalls or withdrawals or often accompanied by some kind of public communication, be that the producer, a regulatory agency or a publication like Food Safety News. In an age of amplified social media information quickly reaches consumers who go to their store and wonder about the status of a product they just or were about to purchase. Recall communication needs to happen with or within 30 minutes of any kind of public announcement so that those at the consumer interface are equipped.
A Recall Ready™ Community
At Recall InfoLink, we are committed to building Recall Ready™ Communities.
There are three simple parts to our solution that are driven by our responsibility to BE READY and BE RESPONSIVE:
- We enable companies to practice the recall process so events are not managed as a crisis. Our service takes Mock Recall process to the next level by simplifying the process for notifying customers, tailoring recall messages, and automating response and documentation for business and compliance needs.
- We ensure communication of complete, accurate information fast, from the initiator to the distributor to the point of sale. Our process enables the recall initiator to create a single-source of truth, entering and maintaining the recall information in one location.
- Our technology leverages GS1 Global, Open Standards so information gets to the impacted retailer in the way they need to see it.
Practice helps you BE READY.
A system that takes your information and gets it in the hands of whoever needs it, in the way they need to see it, ensures we are RESPONSIVE.
Creating a Recall Ready™ Community means your company and others can react when a problem hits, and can do so in a clear, accurate, timely and universal way.