Chris Brown is Senior Director Sustainable Business at Asda

SeaWeb: What do you think is the future of traceability and transparency?

Chris Brown: This area is going to be a high priority for all types of food chains. Seafood has had to develop with IUU regulations and the like. I anticipate technology providing more rapid and accessible routes to ‘walk’ supply chains. I also expect consumer expectations of open data to rise. Asda contributes to the SFP Ocean Disclosure Project which gives full disclosure of our sourcing and the sustainability assessment.

SeaWeb: How does your company, or your client companies, think about traceability? Do they think about it mainly in terms of supply chain management, or as a way to communicate to the marketplace?

Chris Brown: Our customer survey data shows customers are concerned about green issues. 93% say they care about green issues and 92% say that they had bought a green product within the last month. The challenge is for us in the sector to deliver credible and relevant information in an accessible format to those customers who seek it. Asda uses a multichannel approach with digital and established methods of dissemination including pack information.

SeaWeb: How should companies think about traceability and transparency?

Chris Brown: Transparency is a qualifier for an increasing proportion of consumers. In a connected world the access to information and its transfer is increasingly rapid. Businesses need to be part of their own conversations. My perspective is that seafood had some of the earliest and, probably, most intensive scrutiny compared to, as an example, livestock. Many of the initiatives on primary production assurance are now common across food production (aquatic and terrestrial), but seafood has been the pathfinder of what are now commonplace business structures.

SeaWeb: What are some examples of companies getting market value from traceability?

Chris Brown: The Ocean Disclosure Project is a substantive commitment to open and honest information. The value in being able to quickly and accurately dispel misconceptions about our fish sourcing has been incredibly useful for Asda. In the modern ‘connected world’ it has to be feasible or prudent to assess negative views and not avoid them. Experience shows if you don’t tell your story somebody else will for you!

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