28. June 2023 / Traceability: Collaboration for More Trust

 – International Cotton Conference Bremen 2022 –


Thilo Fiedler

In his lecture during the International Cotton Conference Bremen 2022, Thilo Fiedler, addressed the topic of building a world of trust through the use of technology. Mr Fiedler is Vice President Agriculture Global Services Line of Bureau Veritas, a worldwide operating company for testing, inspection and certification services. In view of upcoming legislative projects, the topic of traceability and the resulting trust in the statements made by players in the textile supply chain is becoming even more important.

Technology and Collaboration are Needed

In his lecture during the session “A Wider View” Mr Fiedler asserted that it must be possible to audit all data collected across the supply chain. It must be possible to verify the provenance of commodities and compliance with regulations as there is a rising demand for transparency. He is convinced that for cotton to provide integrity and accountability, supply chain actors must be willing to collaborate. A combination of tech and the people on the ground as well as a clear cost structure are needed. A traceable network enables all stakeholder to view all segments of the supply chain with verifiable data.

No Technology Solution Available

He said that there is currently no available technology solution for commodities in the market. There are initiatives, mostly small-scale solutions touching the Tier 1 suppliers, maybe Tier 2 suppliers, but overall, there is no unified network to provide full supply chain transparency. One of the biggest challenges for the supply chain is to deliver on promises and rebuild trust. There are many examples of false or misleading statements in the fashion value chain, where retailers, brands and traders make claims that cannot be verified. Mr. Fiedler said that having solid supply chain traceability could benefit all stakeholders. He quotes a statistic where 83 % of brands and producers say, that traceability of their product is very or extremely important to staying competitive in the market.

Five Key Measurement Parameters

Assuming we know the supply chain, there are five key measurement parameters: quality, origin assurance, environmental, social and governance assurance. With new legislation in place, origin assurance is becoming the key factor among them. The objective is to achieve full traceability for each item sold at retail. To achieve this objective, Mr Fiedler names four key success factors for implementation: There must be technical expertise in the collection and storage of data, traceability expertise in understanding the supply chain, user-friendly tools of data collection and analysis with easy visibility, and the system must be global to encompass all elements of the supply chain. All data must be possible to audit to create trust with the final customer.

Mr Fiedler said that full supply chain traceability is the essence of sustainability. He described a traceability schematic for a typical customer. In order to be the best-in-class in the commodity sector, the cotton industry needs to provide a seamless way to connect reliable data with a textile product throughout the supply chain.

View Mr Fiedler’s presentation on traceability on the website of the Bremen Cotton Exchange

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