The USAID/Food For Peace (FFP) is considering using Automatic Identification and Data Capture, specifically QR codes, to improve the efficiency of its operations, given the losses and damages in the recent years. Although FFP currently tracks the U.S. in-kind supply chain by manually entering data into databases or spreadsheets based on stakeholder reports, it is considering using Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC), and specifically scannable Quick Response (QR) codes on the packaging of its commodities, to more effectively track and trace food aid and improve efficiency across the supply chain. To provide USAID decision-makers with a better understanding of the relevant costs and benefits of introducing QR codes to FFP commodities, FFP the Integra LEAP III team to conduct a feasibility analysis comparing the investment, delivery times, and costs of using QR codes with delivery times and costs under the current system. The feasibility analysis evaluated the incremental impact of adopting QR codes for all four of the U.S. FFP in-kind food aid delivery processes – U.S. prepositioning (PREPO) warehouse, direct shipping, overseas PREPO warehouses, and diverted food assistance.
This analysis began with holding meetings with stakeholders in both Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas in February 2020. The team will meet with a number of stakeholders in the food aid supply chain, such as USAID officials, freight forwarders, packaging suppliers, and warehouse operators. Additionally, a member of the Integra team attended USAID and World Food Program’s 3rd Food Aid Packaging Solutions Workshop Series and presented on the team’s feasibility study to the participants. The team was set to travel to Ethiopia and Djibouti in March 2020 to gain further understanding on the investments, procedures, and incremental costs and benefits of adopting QR codes and an AIDC tracking system across the Ethiopian supply chain for U.S. in-kind food assistance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all travel was canceled so the team updated its work plan. They instead continued to gather information from all remaining stakeholders remotely by creating and deploying short surveys to the following stakeholders: shipping and handling contractors; FFP partners (private voluntary organizations, international organizations, implementing partners, and service contractors); FFP and other U.S. government representatives; and commodity and packaging suppliers.