The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that there were about 314 million egg producing hens in the United States in 2016, laying approximately 87.4 billion eggs. Only about 23 million of these birds are estimated to be “cage-free”. The USDA’s estimates that in order to meet purchase pledges from all the retailers, foodservice outlets, distributors and food manufacturers making commitments to cage-free eggs, 176.5 million cage-free layers will be required by 2025.
Even as food supply chains grow longer and increasingly complex, pressures on transparency, quality, safety, and cost continue to rise. Consumers want nutrition and sourcing information, while chain operators and distributors need “track and trace” capabilities, and more. Having complete data on real-time and historical locations, temperatures, and quality indices for food and other supplies is the holy grail of track and trace, but the even larger goal of “visibility” beckons. A “visible” supply chain adds to basic track and trace data richer information on capacities, assets, forecasts, costs, and possible disruptions.