When it comes to monitoring your supply chain performance, it’s a good idea to work with someone that has independence – meaning they don’t benefit based on the result. Just as you wouldn’t trust the fox to keep an accurate count of hens in the hen house, you should find an objective, third party to monitor your product performance through the supply chain.

The Value of Independence

For example, consider advertising rates on television. Let’s say a fast food restaurant wants to advertise their new double bacon chili cheeseburger during a baseball game. They’ll want to know how many people are likely to see their advertisement. If it’s a popular team with lots of fans (think Yankees, Giants), viewership will likely be higher, and they’ll be willing to pay more to advertise. If it’s less popular team (think Mets or my poor Oakland A’s), fewer viewers, lower rates. But, the restaurant probably won’t want to get that data from the TV network, as a reported higher viewership would let them charge more. The restaurant will want an independent, unbiased report. That’s why A.C. Nielsen, the global measurement and data analytics company, provides TV ratings services. Data they collect and verify helps set the TV network’s advertising rates. A.C. Nielsen is trusted because they don’t benefit whether the viewership is high or low.

When it comes to collecting data about the fresh food supply chain, such as monitoring product conditions and handling, it’s also good to use a third-party. Mandated tools, where data is often not shared, often breeds suspicion and erodes trust and the value can be one-sided. Objective data collection and analysis, validated through an independent data company strengthens trust between the growers, suppliers and retailers. It also provides trusted data that each party can use to improve their own operations.

Supply Chain Performance: The ZIPR Code

Zest Labs works with growers and suppliers to provide objective information about the condition and shelf-life of products as they move through the fresh food supply chain to improve supply chain performance. Using predictive analytics and IoT condition sensors, we can collect and evaluate the data about the product from harvest through to retail or restaurant delivery. But, we don’t just provide condition data, we also provide the suppliers and retailers with the ability to better manage and optimize their supply chain operations. For example, we can provide all parties with data about the dynamic remaining shelf-life. We call it the ZIPR Code (for Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing Code). An independent data analytics tool such as Zest Fresh gains adoption because all users value the results – which means they trust and use the results on a regular basis.

We introduced the ZIPR Code as the industry’s first freshness metric back in January of 2017. The ZIPR Code tells growers, processors, shippers and retailers the dynamic remaining shelf-life of the product so that they can intelligently route the product to ensure it is always delivered with sufficient shelf-life for retail sell through and consumer satisfaction. This is important because not all pallets of product are equal. Even product harvested from the same field on the same day can have shelf-life that varies by as much as five days due to variations in harvest conditions (i.e. time of day), temperature and handling. By knowing the impact of these factors on freshness, we can identify and route a pallet with more shelf-life to a further destination while shipping one with less shelf-life to a nearby location, all having top quality. The result: less waste, improved product margins and happier customers. A standard metric, with trusted data collection, becomes valuable to everyone and a true win-win for growers and retailers.

Read more about the ZIPR Code.

Now, I’ve got to go find out more about that double bacon chili cheeseburger and watch the A’s game.