SAN ANTONIO — A group of food retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers announced today a five-point best-practice process to improve the accuracy of product data shared between manufacturers and their trading partners.

Members of the Data Quality Framework Initiative pilot program discussed best practices at the GS1 Connect 2013 conference held here. Participating companies include Ahold USA, Coca-Cola, Hershey, McLane Co., PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, J.M. Smucker, Wakefern Food Corp. and Wegmans.

The group, formed to identify the causes of inaccurate product data, has “identified and validated five industry best practices that, if followed, will help to ensure the highest levels of data accuracy,” according to a white paper from 1WorldSync, Lawrenceville, N.J. “A coordinated industry effort is needed to help make the [best practices] a standard process for manufacturers moving forward.”

The best practices address a lingering supply-chain problem – the tendency of manufacturers to disseminate product data that is inaccurate in various respects, including case weights and dimensions – that results in logistical inefficiencies and out-of-stocks.

The five best practices, which would be implemented by manufacturers and retailers with private-label items, include:

  • Adhering to the following “foundational” product attributes in internal set-up: GTIN, UPC, brand, net content and unit of measure.
  • Attribute owners are clearly identified and accountable with written control mechanisms documenting validation procedures.
  • A single group and individual are accountable for shepherding and gathering item attributes from attribute owners to ensure that control mechanisms are followed.
  • All new items are measured off a stable production environment, rather than off preliminary measures.
  • Production measurements are communicated internally and externally.

Product data accuracy, which the food industry has been grappling with since the dawn of data synchronization in the early 2000s, “has not grown as fast as I would like,” sad Beckey James, EC manager for food wholesaler McLane Co., Temple, Texas, who spoke at the conference. “Hopefully this [industry standard] will help it grow faster.”

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