RFID Technology in Food & Beverage industry

RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is becoming more advanced in consumer product industries, as retailers continue to invest in the technology in order to simplify transactions and improve customer service. Retailers are striving to improve logistics systems in order to deliver perishable goods easily and within certain transport regulations. Aside from this, continuous traceability and comprehensive analysis of ingredients are becoming the norm for legislators and consumers alike, and RFID ensures that the documentation for each ingredient is done automatically with a minimum amount of processing, therefore optimizing distribution to consumers.

Marks & Spencer is replacing bar codes with an RFID system which includes tags for millions of containers that hold food being shipped from suppliers to its stores. This RFID system improves efficiency and is a guaranteed time-saver, with only a five-second waiting period to receive data from 50 containers, a vast difference of 85% compared with the previous system.

Other obvious advantages include less spoilt food, fewer lost shipments, and faster returns on investment, with M&S expecting to regain the US$3 million cost of the RFID system in only three years.

Another industry giant, Walmart, requires its major suppliers to have RFID tags on every pallet and case arriving at its distribution centres and stores. The company expects to save US$407 million yearly through visibility improvements alone.

Industry experts also agree on another big advantage of the RFID system, which is the reduction of out-of-stock situations in stores. Procter & Gamble, along with other mass merchandisers, estimate an increase in annual sales by US$1.2 billion with the help of RFID.

“While RFID has been around for a while, and has matured a great deal in recent years, many companies still don’t understand how they can use the visibility the technology provides, in order to streamline business processes, reduce expenses and boost sales,” says Mark Roberti, RFID Journal’s founder and editor.