Global Standards Improve Supply Chain

The GS1 Item Alignment initiative via the GDSN now includes foodservice.


  • GDSN began with about 200 companies and six data pools in 2004. The landscape today shows many positive trends unfolding. The growth in GDSN adoption is being driven from several areas, which are expected to continue to drive exponential growth:
  • Country penetration and expansion is growing. GDSN is now active in over 90 countries, with the number anticipated to continue to increase due to new regions implementing GDSN, as well as early adopters of GDSN focusing on both regional expansion and internal implementation of data quality and business process automation initiatives;
  • Data pools within the network have grown from six to 28;
  • Sectors have spanned well beyond CPG to include healthcare, hardlines (product lines primarily consisting of merchandise such as hardware, housewares, automotive, electronics, sporting goods, health and beauty aids, or toys, chemical ingredients, foodservice and support for mobile commerce trusted data);
  • As multi-nationals expand to new regions, they can leverage the network to connect to their local/regional manufacturers or distributors.

With the big picture on GS1 US goals and initiatives defined, it was time to dig into the details. To learn what was going on, I spoke to the leaders of the key focus areas (i.e., The Focus Five) specified by GS1 US’ Carpenter.

Foodservice Objectives

Longtime GS1 US executive Dan Wilkinson is now in charge of helping the foodservice industry adopt GS1 standards. Wilkinson provided the following history, update and insight relative to this initiative:

In October 2009, 55 founding member companies came together to support the voluntary adoption and implementation of GS1 global standards by individual foodservice companies that wanted to achieve complete and accurate data with their trading partners. Here’s what they’re looking for:

  • GS1 Location Identification: Global Location Number (GLN) for unique brand-owner identification;
  • GS1 Product Identification: Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for foodservice products to ensure unique identification of individual products;
  • Baseline product information (product attributes): Aligned product information throughout the supply chain from manufacturer to distributor to operator—to include nutritional, allergens,and ingredient information;
  • Access to standard product information through the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
    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;
  • Establish a foundation for improving food safety and traceability.

Within the foodservice industry, GS1 standards have been endorsed by industry associations such as the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

I was intrigued by the incredibly rapid advancement in the foodservice initiative, so I attended the NRA show in Chicago, May 24-25. GS1 held a special meeting for the foodservice initiative at the event, and it was quite an eye-opener. There were nearly 100 director and C-level executives on-site at the meetings, with 20 to 30 others joining by phone and online meetings. This was an incredible show of support in a very short period of time.

For more information about the foodservice initiative, distributors or operators can contact Lance Esposito at lesposito@gs1us.org. Manufacturers or brand owners can contact Julie McGill at jmcgill@gs1us.org.

Holzman is director of solution product sales, LANSA, Downers Grove, IL. Published by MC Press Online on September 13, 2010, and reprinted with permission of MC Press Online (www.mcpressonline.com).

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