Unlocking Supply Chain Resiliency

Creating better visibility by using standards, technology, and physical and digital tools

Tracing a Big Mac hamburger’s journey from ranch to fast-food restaurant isn’t easy. Today’s highly segmented beef supply chain consists of a wide array of ranches, feedlots, packers, processors, distribution centers, and restaurants, each with its own set of carefully collected data. Yet in today’s complex digital world, organizations need more visibility than ever to manage inventory, know where products are coming from, and maintain consumer trust, according to Bob Carpenter, President and CEO of GS1 US®, a not-for-profit international supply chain standards organization.

To manage this wealth of data, industries use one of the simplest and most reliable data standards: the barcode. This ubiquitous machine-readable set of parallel lines encodes unique identification numbers for most items at points-of-sale around the globe. Although a Big Mac is never scanned, the journey of its ingredients is understood and communicated using these standards.

The Golden Thread of Traceability

To gain greater visibility into its supply chain, fast-food restaurant giant McDonald’s teamed up with supplier Golden State Foods in a pilot project that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to automatically track fresh beef’s movement from manufacturer to restaurant in near-real-time. This strategy promises to “create a golden digital thread of traceability, giving partners across our ecosystem the information they need to build trust, improve transparency, and drive value,” says Sue Fangmann, U.S. Supply Chain Services Director for McDonald’s.

Visibility Is the Biggest Supply Chain Threat

A 2023 IDC global survey of 811 executives from manufacturing, life sciences, and retail rated what, they felt, were the largest supply chain problems looming going forward.


Lack of supply chain visibility and resiliency limits the ability to see necessary changes in time to react effectively


Need for robust data analytics and insight intelligence


Lack of digital competencies limits the ability to transition the supply chain to new business models


Lack of deep insight into customers and consumers


Lack of sufficient collaboration with external suppliers and/or customers

McDonald's and Golden State Foods Build Supply Chain Resiliency for the Future

Discover how GS1 Standards help McDonald's and Golden State Foods seamlessly manage their inventory, in both retail and warehouse environments, to create a more efficient, digitized supply chain and prepare for the future.

Welcome to the “phygital” universe, where assets from the physical and digital worlds are blended to unlock vast volumes of information. In recent years, labor shortages, transportation failures, and political volatility have contributed to severe supply chain disruptions. Organizations like McDonald’s are discovering phygital tools can address these difficulties by merging the efficiency and agility of technology, including artificial intelligence (AI)—with help from physical object identifiers—to create faster, more-accurate, more-transparent, and more-resilient supply chains.

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