In the food industry the terms traceability and lot control are often used interchangeably, and often the expectations of our customers and readers blur the boundaries between them. Today we will identify the differences and some of the intricacies of using one or both.  In today's warehouse barcoding is by far the most efficient way to implement lot control or traceability so we’ll focus on bar code solutions (though manual work arounds for traceability do exist.)

Trace versus Lot Control

The basic definitions:

  • Traceability - Quality control: Gives the ability to trace the application, location, and/or history of an activity or item by means of recorded data.

  • Lot Control- Ensures every piece of inventory that flows through a warehouse can be tracked to a group of origin. A “lot” is a specific batch of an item that was received or produced, is currently stored, or was shipped from your warehouse.



Capturing the information from the following bar-code example shows how you can trace an item and where you sold it.

Recall only requires the serial number of the box sold.

This level of traceability can be utilized in our Food Connex Cloud system it does not rely on lot control to trace the serial number or Customer sold. There are also ways to do traceability manually with receive labels this is a very important capability for farm to table firms that do not want to invest in bar code technologies.


To track where a specific item came from and more importantly have the ability to “age” your inventory by capturing the sell by, production, use by dates in the bar-code. In addition you can see your inventory segmented by lot.

The bar code necessary for lot tracking and aging requires a lot tracking number and a date code for aging inventory.

Using lot control will allow you to see what lots are left in stock and what you paid for them so you can measure profitability at a lot level. Importers usually need these capabilities.

Lot control requires more discipline in Warehousing for put-aways and managing lot pulling.

ProVisions by our sister company CAI provides all those capabilities.



  1. Handles recall of finished product for USDA.
  2. If bar-codes are already in place implementation costs are reduced.
  3. Have the ability to implement without bar codes.
  4. Increase fill rates and reduce picking errors.

Lot Control:

  1. Can age inventory to reduce spoilage
  2. Track costs and inventory at the lot level.
  3. Can recall by total Lot.
  4. Increase fill rates and reduce picking errors




Issue 640 - Everything Cycles.

Transformation and disruption was a topic in an article in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. I read about the demise of Sears & Roebuck titled The Big Stumble. They believed they had no competitors. The New York Times dubbed them "The Amazon of the gilded age." Those of us in the baby boom generation remember Sears.  As a young boy I remember thumbing through the catalog, dreaming of what I could buy if I had the money.

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