What’s the Difference Between Traceability and Transparency in the Supply Chain?

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The integrity of the supply chain is under a microscope these days as consumers want to know where their products came from and under what conditions they were produced. However, “transparent” and “traceable” are often used interchangeably, creating confusion about how they are used to describe a supply chain. Let’s start with the dictionary definitions of both terms: Trace (verb): “to follow or study out in detail or step by step; to discover by going backward over the evidence step by step.” Transparent (adjective): “visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.” In a supply chain, we need to trace the steps a product goes through before it reaches a consumer. For a supply chain to be transparent, it’s important that all information is clearly and completely documented when traced. Essentially, there can be a traceable supply chain, but if it doesn’t include all important information, it won’t be transparent.

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