Unravelling the Food Supply Chain

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A quick progression of similar events, as well as the March 2007 pet food recall, have exposed the actual possibility of disruptions and food supply chain contaminants. They may be especially exposed when organisations source via multi layered supply chains with bad visibility. In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework known as the "Six Ts" of supply chain quality management traceability, transparency, testability, time, trust and training which is important for just about any merchandise but are especially vital for the preservation of public well-being via a secure food supply.

We describe the globalisation of food supply chains and current data on the tendencies of U.S. food import quantities, both in aggregate and especially from China. Also, we emphasise dangers and the inherent problems presented by international food supply chains, using those originating as a good example in China. Eventually, we provide questions and a research plan to be addressed concerning the utilisation of the six Ts in international food supply chain management.

After a 5-month investigation, on March 15, 2007, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) declared that "contaminants (were discovered) in vegetable proteins imported into the United States from China and were used as ingredients in pet food" (USFDA 2007). On the following months, hundreds of pet food brands were recalled. These events were followed using an avalanche of reports in the popular press about issues with other Chinese-made products (Byron 2007; Narrative 2007; Welch, Woellert and Carey 2007). The truth is, of the 152 consumer goods Safety Commission since January 2007, 104 were made in China. Chinese manufacturing companies are linked with twice as many recalls in America in 2007 as organisations of another state, such as the U.S. (Farah 2007).

Of significant recalls being experienced by the merchandise classifications, food may hit closest to home for the largest amount of consumers. FDA reports of carcinogens, pesticides, bacteria, drugs and heavy metals in imported foods have functioned as a wake-up call to the American people in regards to the quality threats of global sourcing, particularly from China.These recent incidents have increased public consciousness of the ubiquity of Chinese goods in the world food supply and have caused worry in regards to the company and supply management practices which have enabled tainted food to get so close to end customers.

Consumer advocate groups and, more lately, food manufacturers themselves are increasingly requiring regulations for food safety (Zhang 2007). Manufacturers, providers, vendors, wholesalers and retailers are stacking on reviews. We consider these strategies alone is going to be neither sustainable nor successful in the future. Instead, we turn to the familiar and essential principle of design quality into procedures, which needs a profound knowledge of the causes for process failures (Giffi, Roth and Seal 1990).

In this paper, we provide a framework for supply chain quality management which will provide the enormous energies which are being brought to bear on this significant issue with a strategic focus. While our framework is appropriate to any supply chain, it crisply recognises that best practices for handling worldwide end to end supply procedures for "tough" merchandises have subtle but significant differences from those for perishable consumables like food. Our framework proposes the "six Ts" of supply chain quality management: 


  • Traceability, 
  • Transparency, 
  • Testability, 
  • Time, 
  • Trust and training.


Traceability is the capacity to monitor a product's flow or characteristics through the entire creation procedure and supply chain (Golan, Krissoff, Kuchler, Calvin, Nelson and Price 2004). The foil is having less secrecy or the orderly supply of merchandise and processing advice under informal and formal arrangements (CDA 1992). The capacity to find an aspect of an item is referred to by testability. Time describes the duration of procedures that are particular. Trust is the expectation that parties could create a good faith attempt to act by any obligations, be fair in discussions rather than benefit from the other even when an opportunity to do this is accessible (Hosmer 1995).

Training is the orderly procedure for creating abilities, knowledge and dispositions regarding international standards of best practices, food safety and quality. These six Ts are crucial elements related to merchandise (food) quality. Our six Ts pattern for quality development could be interpreted when it comes to the recognisable Define Measure Analyze Improve Control (DMAIC) strategy of Six Sigma.

For an organisation looking to increase the standard of the products it delivers and sources via an international supply chain, the six Ts function as both essential inputs and desired outputs in each DMAIC period. In the Define stage, the project team should be formed, the project deliverables defined as well as the team coached. Traceability, or having the ability to "map" the supply chain, is input to the stage and training is a result of this juncture. By training, we mean ensuring both the supply chain supervisors are trained on the practices needed to make certain high-quality merchandise and the providers that are international are trained on standards and those same expectations.

In the Measure phase, the team gets a baseline, executes them to gather, and identifies the essential metrics associated with quality. As evaluations have to be implemented to permit measurement at every crucial point in the supply chain in this period, testability should be a result. In the Analyse time, the team collects data and efforts to look for the leading causes of any differences in functionality. Transparency of standards and processes is essential to start this procedure. Through the supply chain, buyer-provider trust could be made better through the cause analysis.

The Improve phase may include development in several metrics, including in the areas of testability of goods traceability of input signals and transparency of procedures throughout the supply chain. One particular part of the focus in the Improve period should be "time." For food products, a decrease in time in the supply chain will reduce the threat of several kinds of quality failures, including those related to perish skill. Eventually, in time, any progress produced in the Control period foil and traceability may be shared system wide through training. In this period, discussion and constant process development help to improve the trust amount through the entire international supply chain. In the sections below, we analyse several variables with a direct effect on the use of the six Ts framework to global food supply chain problems.

The rest of the paper is arranged as follows. We start by summarising the development of the supply chains offering American consumers with food, and we later detail the increasing part in the international food industry in China. We then present recent FDA data involving a review of food exports that are Chinese and identify specific problems for the six Ts that originate from Chinese food providers' ethnic standards and company states. Following this, we develop a research plan for food supply chain quality management which is organised across the six Ts. Eventually, we close with discussion and a summary of the consequences of the six Ts for the international food supply.


The construction of the typical food supply chain of today is shown in Figure 2. A farmer/grower begins with farm supplies machines, seeds, agrochemicals and alternative input signals and sells either into a food processor or through advertising and storage using consolidator or a cooperative group. Growers do possess the possibility to reach down the chain to vendors, retailers as well as consumers (e.g. farmers' markets and eateries). Other players in the chain also can expand their reach. Big manufacturing companies usually have a route that is direct to retailers. The correct supply chain route to get the product determines a unique food product features, size as well a the market power of the supply chain members (Maloni and Brown 2006). Traceability and transparency in food supply chains, however, are mainly influenced by three major forces: 


  1. Globalization, 
  2. Consolidation and
  3. Commoditization.



Before the past several decades, the popular U.S. food supply chain was primarily regionally localised and consisted of mainly little-to-moderate size independent and local companies. These shops were provided makers and by regional companies of agricultural products. Where a mixture of moderate-scale family farms with some specialisation. The logistics system was comparatively ineffective and fragmented, with mostly regional and local reach (Saltmarsh and Wakeland 2004).

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