Case Study

Wegmans Food Markets Implement GS1 Standards With Wholechain for Seafood Traceability


Traceability is becoming a requirement in seafood supply chains due to regulatory changes like the FDA's Rule 204 of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the demands of progressive retailers, food service establishments, and consumers. Beyond regulatory requirements, retailers like Wegmans see the value of traceability as a tool to help advance Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. Previously, buyers would mandate specific traceability solutions for their suppliers, resulting in duplicate data entry and the need for suppliers to manage multiple solutions for their different buyers. Interoperability between systems prevents these issues and paves the way to industry-wide adoption at scale.

Interoperability facilitates data exchange between systems, allowing businesses to choose suitable solutions and avoid vendor lock. Without interoperability in the seafood industry, communicating sustainability, food safety, quality, and social welfare data becomes challenging because of the many layers that comprise seafood supply chains. Errors and data loss occur when translating between formats and systems, straining buyer-supplier relationships, adding costs, and posing risks to food safety and quality.


Wegmans Food Markets recognizes the importance of standards to simplify data collection and sharing for suppliers. The company is implementing GDST (Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability) standards, which are based on GS1 Standards, in its seafood supply chains. This approach provides a common language for seafood suppliers to share data, even between different traceability systems.

Wegmans' adoption of GDST and GS1 Standards benefits its own suppliers and other seafood buyers. GDST data standards allow everyone throughout the seafood supply chain to share data seamlessly using their preferred GDST-compliant traceability system, saving time on data cleansing, preventing data loss, and eliminating the need to manage multiple systems and data sets. Wegmans and many of its suppliers have chosen to use Wholechain, a GS1 US Solution Partner and GDST-compliant traceability system. By leading in the use of standards, the retailer has the potential to revolutionize data sharing and support food safety and responsible sourcing initiatives across the global seafood industry.

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At Wegmans, we believe that good supplier relationships are the foundation for offering our customers the freshest seafood, responsibly sourced. Based on GS1 Standards, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) makes data collection simpler for suppliers, while giving them the ability to choose how they share their data. These standards enable us to more easily collect verifiable traceability data to ensure food safety and socially and environmentally responsible sourcing practices.”

Steve Philips
Seafood Group Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

A Foundation of Traceability

US retailers can learn from Wegmans as they implement traceability across food supply chains to achieve regulatory compliance, supply chain transparency, and ESG goals. FSMA Rule 204 mandates end-to-end traceability for high-risk food items, including soft cheeses, nut butters, eggs, leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more. Traceability can also help companies identify responsible sources of soy and beef, for example, which are closely tied to deforestation in Brazil, or of cocoa and coffee. As in seafood, interoperability is key to achieving end-to-end traceability in non-seafood supply chains. Companies could benefit from implementing GS1 or industry-specific standards in order to similarly streamline data sharing with suppliers and facilitate the level of transparency that can help to achieve lasting changes across food supply chains.

How Data Standards Simplify Daily Life

Standards simplify our lives by allowing different devices and systems to connect or interoperate seamlessly. For example, the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard enables Android and Apple phones to connect to the same Wi-Fi network without the need for device-specific routers. In the automobile industry, the standardization of the fuel nozzle allows all car makes and models to use the same nozzle to refuel. Each of these examples has been critical to the growth of their respective industries. Just as standards have facilitated the growth of the Internet and the automobile industries, they have the potential to transform the seafood industry and food systems more broadly.


Streamlined Data Collection and Supply Chain Responsiveness

Implementing end-to-end traceability in alignment with GS1 Standards enables retailers like Wegmans to streamline data collection for compliance with FSMA Rule 204 and internal sustainability and food safety requirements, achieving an unforeseen level of supply chain visibility that helps protect consumers and facilitates rapid response to food safety emergencies.

Enhanced Sourcing Efficiency and Informed Decision-Making

Data standardization and the adoption of GDST-compliant traceability systems create a domino effect across supplier networks, streamlining supplier onboarding processes and unlocking the opportunity for buyers to make more informed sourcing decisions.

Simplified Data Sharing Across Buyer Networks

With GDST data requirements, Wegmans and other retailers can receive data via any GDST-capable traceability system, reducing the burden on suppliers to manage multiple systems for different buyers.

Data-Backed ESG Claims

Verifiable traceability data aligned with GS1 Standards can help companies substantiate ESG claims and/or identify changes needed to achieve more socially and environmentally responsible sourcing practices.

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST): A Legacy of GS1 Data Standards

Established in 1974, GS1 has been pivotal in creating standards that harmonize data collection in global supply chains. The ubiquitous GS1 UPC and EAN barcodes exemplify this effort, providing product information that is universally legible to different systems. GS1 Standards underlie the work of the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, an independent organization since October 2022 involving collaboration among diverse seafood stakeholders such as Wegmans and technology providers like Wholechain.

The GDST has developed a comprehensive global framework for seafood traceability focusing on enhancing data availability by defining Key Data Elements (KDEs) and Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) throughout the supply chain. Such data can be used to validate food safety, product quality, and sustainability requirements. GDST standards reduce compliance burdens and facilitate interoperability between traceability systems. 

The GDST has gone further in developing a Capability Test that mimics the operations of a traceability system in order to verify that solution providers are capable of sharing data interoperably. 

Implications of Seafood Data Standards for US Retail

Seafood supply chains are among the most fragmented in the world. This means that webs of supplier networks may feed into webs of intermediaries, processors, and buyers, all of whom collect harvest and other data using a variety of formats (that is, if they are collecting any data at all). The FDA’s FSMA Rule 204, which intends to harmonize traceability requirements for high-risk food items, including seafood, is providing an opportunity for major buyers and US retailers to examine what supply chain data is available to them. GS1 Standards and the derivative GDST framework for seafood, include data points to answer questions like, ‘what? where? why? and how?’ products move along the supply chain. The answers to these questions shed light on food safety, sustainability, worker welfare, and issues prevalent in the seafood industry, such as connections to Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

To begin to answer these questions, buyers must take steps to ensure their suppliers are equipped to collect traceability data in a manner that is easily shared along the supply chain. By implementing GDST standards from source to retail, Wegmans is doing just that — the company ensures that any data collected at the point of harvest is easily communicated to any intermediaries, processors, and distributors, all the way to Wegmans. Wegmans’ approach to systematizing data collection can serve as a blueprint for others seeking to establish an interoperable system of data collection spearheaded by a major US retailer. Establishing such data interoperability is key to achieving end-to-end traceability, supporting US retailers in complying with FSMA Rule 204, and enabling retailers to fulfill consumer desire for greater supply chain transparency.

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Interoperability will be the most meaningful change to traceability to date, and I cannot emphasize enough how essential this first step is for our entire industry.”

Steve Philips
Seafood Group Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

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The GS1-based GDST Framework

This framework can empower retailers to collect more detailed information about their supply chains, resulting in the following.

Enhanced food safety

With data standards, companies like Wegmans can trace individual lots of products back to the source and use that information to anticipate issues with food safety and/or act quickly to remove products from the supply chain when a food safety issue arises. 

Precise environmental monitoring

Companies engaging GDST standards will have more information about whether their sources are compliant with environmental regulations. This information is critical to identifying strategies to reduce carbon footprint, overfishing, bycatch of endangered species, and more. 

More informed sourcing decisions

Standards help ensure that suppliers are providing detailed harvest data in a format that is easily interpreted as it moves along the supply chain. The data provides insights that companies can use to identify good actors in their supply chain, and any volumes of product from unidentified sources, for example, to combat IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing.

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We are not just buyers and sellers of products for profit. We are representatives of our customers, and they are demanding that choices be made with due diligence on their behalf. The GDST Basic Universal List of KDEs will provide Wegmans and our supplier-partners a target to aim towards that will provide additional information for us to make the best choices on behalf of our customers and improve where gaps are identified.”

Steve Philips
Seafood Group Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

Leading Food System Transformation

Wegmans is among the first retailers in the United States to implement the GDST framework across its seafood products. The retailer’s implementation of the standards—in partnership with Wholechain, a standards-based, GDST-compliant traceability solution—is integral to the company’s responsible sourcing and food safety strategies and demonstrates the company’s long-term vision for food system transformation. 

Strong supplier relationships are crucial for retailers to make informed sourcing decisions, reduce costs, and advance Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. Effective communication and data sharing along the supply chain are key to nurturing these relationships. Wegmans’ use of GS1 standards to simplify data sharing for its suppliers leads to an unprecedented level of transparency that benefits all stakeholders, including other retailers. This transparency can be replicated in other food products and ingredients within US grocery supply chains. Wegmans’ use of standards exemplifies the company’s commitment to suppliers as catalysts for positive change in the food system.

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I have often said that Wegmans is unique because they treat their suppliers like customers, and this positions them to lead in transformational efforts like traceability. Wegmans has recognized the opportunity to build on existing requirements like FSMA 204 with GS1 Standards, allowing suppliers to meet data demands all at once. Wegmans’ efforts greatly resonate with our focus on making traceability highly accessible to suppliers and retailers alike.”

Jayson Berryhill
Co-Founder, Wholechain

About Wegmans

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a regional supermarket chain with 110 stores located along the east coast. The family company, recognized as an industry leader and innovator, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Wegmans has been named one of the '100 Best Companies to Work For' by FORTUNE magazine for 26 consecutive years, ranking #4 in 2023. Learn more at

About Wholechain

Wholechain is a blockchain-based traceability solution that is built to enable trust, coordination, and transparency in fragmented supply chains. As a GS1 Silver Solution Partner, Wholechain works using GS1 Standards across commodities, allowing businesses to manage risks and increase efficiencies while enabling consumers to make more responsible decisions. Wholechain collaborates on numerous industry initiatives supporting sustainability in supply chains including multiple GS1 working groups, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, and more. Wholechain is a former winner of the Fish 2.0 competition at Stanford for Supply Chain Innovation, and a winner of the FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety Food Traceability Challenge. Find out more at

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