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Netherlands: Location codes in fresh produce and flowers

Fresh produce and floriculture sectors in the Netherlands have assigned and are managing nearly 18,000 total Global Location Numbers (GLNs) across their industries. Loek Boortman, Chief Technology Officer of GS1 Netherlands explains a major driver for the country’s GLN adoption, “We work closely to communicate the concept of a GLN to sector organisations, and they, in turn, are well positioned to share the use of GLNs with their industry members.” Frug I Com and Floricode are examples of two such organisations driving the use of GS1 standards.

Produce puts its trust in GLNs
Frug I Com is a collaborative organisation consisting of trading partners across the Dutch fresh produce supply chain—growers, packers, traders and retailers.
“We started Frug I Com about 11 years ago to help our industry with the adoption of GS1 standards,” says Johan den Engelse, Senior Consultant at Frug I Com. “Using GS1 standards, we are driving the optimal use of information for a faster and more efficient supply chain that provides accurate information about fresh produce for retailers and consumers alike.”Retailers have become increasingly interested in getting detailed information about fresh produce to meet consumer demand. European Union (EU) legislative actions have also mandated requirements for greater transparency across the food supply chain; for example, EU Regulation 178 in 2002 addressed the directive for traceability.Before using GLNs, Dutch growers used their own location codes for identifying packing locations.

Approximately 16,000 locations each have its own GLN where growers
send and traders receive flowers just purchased.

“After transitioning to GLNs, this was good for our growers since the GLOBALG.A.P. organisation had decided to require GLNs as part of its independent certification system for Good Farming Practices,” says den Engelse. “So the GLNs that were already in use by our growers could also be used in support of the government’s quality control initiative.” Frug I Com has been key to the Dutch fresh produce industry’s adoption with more than 1,500 growers of fresh produce, to date, using GLNs to comply with quality assurance requirements in national and European export food markets. Since each grower may assign up to ten GLNs, there is a potential for approximately 15,000 GLNs to be used in the Dutch fresh produce industry alone.Frug I Com gives valuable up-front help and direction for growers and packers who are new to implementing GLNs. “We know it’s important to provide companies with support to implement GLNs,” says den Engelse. “We help them understand the possibilities of assigning GLNs not only for their respective role in the supply chain, but also for detailed location identification such as assigning a GLN for each packing station and glass house.”

And as demand for exporting fresh produce increases, so does the need for streamlining processes with GS1 standards. “The detailed information contained in the GLN Registry—especially the GLN hierarchies—is quite important for trade agreements,” explains den Engelse. “It’s important to have this level of detailed information for transparency when it comes to trading with other countries. As registries around the world are joined together in the GS1 GLN Service, this will become very beneficial for our industry.” Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of using GLNs and the GLN Registry revolves around the simple concept of “trust.” “Trust has become more and more important in our industry,” says den Engelse. “By sharing produce information and making the supply chain more transparent, our companies are becoming even more trusted partners.”

Location codes in the floriculture supply chain
Focused on floriculture, a leading sector in the Dutch economy, Floricode works with its growers, auctions, wholesale traders and logistics service providers, helping them use information management systems and GS1 standards for a highly efficient supply chain in Europe and around the world. “Since we are dealing with fresh flowers, time to market is very important,” says Henk Zwinkels, Chief Information Officer of Floricode. “Growers need to sell their products within a few hours, and then traders and transporters must efficiently move the flowers on through the supply chain to retailers in approximately one day. Saving time and associated costs is a major driver for our industry’s adoption of GS1 standards, especially the GLN.” As early as 2000, Floricode worked with the Netherlands’ three major flower auctions along with the growers and wholesale traders to implement GLNs for electronic transactions. “Using GLNs, traders can now place orders with their favourite growers, deliveries can be easily dispatched, and invoices administered,” says Zwinkels. “We chose to work with GS1 rather than creating our own codes,” continues Zwinkels. “And since flowers are a major export for our country, we’re glad that GS1 standards are recognised globally.” Zwinkels stresses the importance of this industry-wide decision to use GLNs. “We didn’t wait to assign GLNs since we knew unique identifiers for all trading partners would enable them to conduct business in a much more efficient way.” In 2009 and 2010, Floricode launched another major initiative to fully leverage GLNs.

With this effort, Floricode assigned and placed GLNs encoded in barcodes on signs at each of the loading and unloading locations at all nurseries, trader locations and all “boxes” of the auctions. Today, there are approximately 16,000 locations—each with its own GLN—where growers send and traders receive flowers that they have just purchased. “Transport carriers can scan the barcode of the actual location where flowers are handled for transport and delivery,” says Zwinkels. “And the GLNs may be used on logistical documents—at the box level. When orders are placed, a GLN can be included to indicate the location an order should be delivered.” Working with other GS1 standards, GLNs also provide floricultural trading partners with track and trace capabilities. “With GS1 standards, retailers can now verify by whom and on what dates and at what times their flowers were loaded and unloaded,” explains Zwinkels. “If a retailer gets a delivery of flowers with unacceptable quality, the trader can pinpoint the grower from which the delivery came as well as the path it took along the supply chain.”

For more information
GS1 Netherlands
Email: [email protected] and

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