LAS VEGAS — While the Rapid Recall Exchange (RRE) enables CPG firms to communicate detailed product recall information to retailers in a timely fashion, a number of factors can “trip up” manufacturers using the exchange, costing precious minutes and hours during the recall process.
That was the message conveyed by Jeff Brazell, senior manager, ebusiness capabilities, customer supply chain integration, PepsiCo, during a presentation here last month at the GS1 Connect Conference, sponsored by GS1 US, Lawrenceville, N.J.
Brazell is an “initiator” of product recalls for PepsiCo via the Rapid Recall Exchange, a web-based, electronic recall network designed for the food industry, with about 900 supplier participants and about 100 retail participants; the latter represents about 85% of grocery all-commodity-volume. The exchange was created by the Food Marketing Institute and GS1 US, with support from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Grocers Association.
The RRE is an obvious choice in a Class I recall, in which recalled products could cause serious health effects or death. But Brazell said that the exchange is useful for Class II and III recalls as well as market withdrawals due to quality rather than health concerns. “Retailers tell us it should be used for all classes of recalls and market withdrawals,” he said. PepsiCo is committed to using it in all cases, he said.
Another suggestion from Brazell was that initiators of recalls — and thus the exchange itself — should be “embedded” in the recall process of a company. (In addition to an initiator, a supplier needs to assign an approver who signs off on the initiator’s recall decision.) Brazell, for example, participates in PepsiCo’s multidisciplinary “core crisis committee” responsible for recalls.
He also advised CPG firms to use the RRE as a “primary communication tool” or in parallel with other communication vehicles in transmitting recall alerts to retailers. In PepsiCo’s case, the company employs the exchange “shortly after the press release goes out,” he said, adding that waiting to use the exchange too long undercuts its usefulness to retailers. “Retailers would rather have the [RRE] information because it’s more detailed than a press release,” he said.
PepsiCo also blitzes retailers with email communications. “We can’t cover everyone with the Rapid Recall Exchange so we use it in parallel [with other methods].”
Ideally, the RRE would reach out to the entire retail community. “We’re looking for more adoption of the Rapid Recall Exchange tool,” said Brazell. “That’s why I’m doing this speech.”
Manufacturers should do a “mock recall” using the RRE from start to finish for all business groups on a regular basis, said Brazell. “If the [exchange] is not the focal point, it should be at least included in the exercise.”
Further, he said it was important to alert “key partners,” such as reverse logistics, retail withdrawal and disposal firms, to potential recall activities. Following a recall, feedback from retailers should be shared with the recall team along with a detailed post-mortem.
Brazell pointed out that the RRE website, rapidretailexchange.org, contains training tools and other resources. It requires users to include all relevant information as well as the product photos retailers can use to identify which products to take off shelves. It contains a list of “targeted receivers” of recall information and their global locations numbers (GLNs).
Last year, PepsiCo employed the RRE in two Class I recall situations — for Rice-A-Roni pilaf and Smashbar graham pretzel snack bar — in which milk, a potential allergen, was not declared as a component of the products on packaging.