HK Summit: Traceability top of mind for Kraft
While the concept of traceability is fairly common in global seafood trade today, it was a very unique concept when Thomas Kraft started down the path in 2002.
Kraft, managing director of Seattle-based Norpac Fisheries Export, developed a stem-to-stern traceability program for all the seafood that goes through its doors from the Pacific Northwestthe South Pacific and other global regions. Norpac ships directly to retailers and foodservice outlets in the United States.
Thanks to Kraft’s pioneering work in this area, many seafood processors and distributors have adopted similar traceability programs. The accomplishment has earned him a spot as a finalist in the Seafood Champion Awards at the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong, from 6 to 8 September.
“[With automated traceability systems], when your customers have questions, you can get back to them in minutes and hours with very exact responses, instead of days and months. You can say, ‘we found the problem and this is how we can take care of it’. It becomes more of a partnership,” said Kraft, who has spoken at numerous global seafood events about traceability.
Traceability is not just for use in tracking sustainable seafood, according to Kraft. “From an economic standpoint, you can determine which species and where it came from. You can manage your business more efficiently and reduce costs,” said Kraft.
However, back in 2003 when Kraft and other Norpac executives wrote the company’s traceability software program, Norpac spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” developing the system. “We assigned an ID number to every single fish in the form of a bar code. Then we started putting information in the fields attached to that bar code, including species, date, trip, catch method and grading information. Every time the fish goes from one physical location to another, the bar code was scanned,” said Kraft.
The winner of the Seafood Champion Awards will be chosen from a field of 15 finalists announced by SeaWeb in late July.