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03/16/2015

Live From Seafood Expo: Trace Register Debuts TR-Common Traceability Standards

Trace Register has introduced at Seafood Expo North America its TR-Common traceability standards, which will enable supply chain partners that aren't Trace Register subscribers to send traceability and product information to TR Enterprise subscribers or other compatible third-party systems.

In an interview on the show floor with Progressive Grocer, Trace Register President Phil Werdal, who ran a fishing company for 30 years before taking on his present position, pointed out that the seafood industry faces myriad challenges beyond sustainability, among them declining consumption, rising prices, and USDA loss rates of 9 percent at retail and as much as 31 percent at the consumer level, figures Werdal called "stunning."

Therefore, the ability to get data from the supply chain and put it to work is critical, allowing manufacturers and retailers to offer more consistent product and satisfy customers. The biggest obstacle to the sharing of information, however, is the lack of interoperability between systems, so Trace Register has rolled out TR-Common, which may be the first of its kind, to address this issue.

"We've been sharing information with other companies for years" in an unofficial capacity, noted Werdal, adding that he believed multiple standards of traceability would persist, making it of paramount importance that "they can talk to each other and translate correctly." This can be achieved through data mapping, he explained, noting that since 90 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, a practical solution that works across various languages is necessary, while a single unifying standard may never happen, despite efforts in that direction from the likes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Expert Panel on Legal and Traceable Wild Fish Product, organized by the World Wildlife Fund and facilitated by Resolve Inc.

Trace Register doesn't intend for TR-Common to become an industry standard. It will be the company’s implementation of an open (published) group of traceability components that a third party can use to send digital traceability data to TR enterprise subscribers.

While the published standards are "the next step in continuing our commitment to openly work with the industry," according to Werdal, Trace Register aims to compete against other systems on data analytics. "That's our value proposition," he said, adding that the ultimate goal of his company was helping industry players such as retailers run better businesses by getting their seafood loss rates down to 6 percent or 7 percent.

"Those dollars are huge," asserted Werdal, "not to mention that the consumer will be happier."

Seattle-based Trace Register has more than 2,000 users in 24 countries.