Nestlé and Unilever sign up to ProductDNA

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Food manufacturers Nestlé and Unilever have become two of the first major processors to sign up to data management service ProductDNA.

The service, launched in May 2018, works by suppliers entering product data into the catalogue, and once it’s independently verified, the data can be accessed along the supply chain including retailers and consumers. Created by the GS1 UK Retail Grocery Advisory Board, it was developed to tackle the lack of consistent data in the supply chain.

David Hix, supply chain director at Nestlé, explained to Food Manufacture why the business has got involved with ProductDNA. He said that even though the process is tough, there are many benefits to it. “If we can automate along the supply chain, it’ll be a huge step towards creating efficiencies. In current operating conditions, there is a move towards efficient end-to-end supply chains, and mapping up and down the supply chain will help with this.

“If the data is captured at the very beginning of the process, it doesn’t have to be a job at the end of the supply chain. Plus there is a fail-safe in the third-party check carried out by XPO Logistics to ensure the data is accurately captured.”

ProductDNA has the capability to record up to 150 attributes. Although it won’t be utilising all 150 at the beginning,Hix said that Nestlé’s plan is to roll out the service in phases. “Phase one will start with any new product and then work through our extensive back catalogue of products. Phase two will then look at extending the number of attributes we use.”

“It’s actually minimal investment compared to the potential payback that it could create due to more accurate data. No cost can be put on the value of consumer trust that can come with the information that ProductDNA provides. It’s a financial no-brainer.”

In June, retailers Tesco and Ocado signed up to the service. The retailers expected to see benefits via having a common data model using a set of agreed product attributes, a simpler, faster product catalogue shared between suppliers and retailers and having third party verification to improve the quality of product data.

Mark Watson, director of planning & supply chain at Ocado, said: “Retailers and suppliers spend too much time on chasing, checking and rekeying product data. ProductDNA delivers a single product data catalogue that we will all own and trust. It will mean we can focus on what’s really important to our businesses, delivering innovation and improving the customer experience.”

George Wright, commercial director of fresh food at Tesco, added: “When adopted universally across the industry, ProductDNA will give retailers increased confidence in the product data they receive, as well as helping to reduce the amount of inaccurate data and increasing the efficiency of our product data processing.”

Expressing how productDNA helps customers and protect their brands, Richard Sadler, customer operations director at Unilever said: “ProductDNA provides a single platform for us to communicate our product information through to customers and, ultimately through to consumers. Doing this quickly, efficiently and once, we hope this will provide some benefits for Unilever and our consumers and customers alike.”

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