FAQ's about Chain of Custody

Managing the Chain of Custody (CoC) is indispensible for companies directly active in the supply chain to secure product integrity, enhance consumer trust and mitigate reputation risk.

1. Why is Chain of Custody so important, particularly in the transport industry?

ISO 22095 ‘Chain of Custody’- A globally shared common language to effectively increase transparency in the supply chain.

For all ISO members is now the time to actively join the ISO/PC 308 to actively contribute their expertise and shape the new generic Chain of Custody standard. A broad representation of ISO member is essential to make sure that supply chain actors globally start to use the same Chain of Custody language to facilitate global trade sustainably.

Communication is crucial to supply chain actors within the (oils and fats) supply chain with respect to 'What do I ask, what do I receive and what did I really receive'. A uniform language for existing standards, upcoming standards and internal policies will make international trade more predictable. A globally shared language is necessary to increase transparency in the supply chain

MVO The Netherlands Oils and Fats industry, Eddy Esselink (processor):

2. How can a generic CoC standard add value for a retailing company dealing with very many different products?

A good definition of the different supply chain models and description of the basic Chain of Custody system requirements will make sure that the information transferred between the supply chain actors is harmonized. The data should be available at the source. The objective is not to build new databases, but to prevent duplication. The CoC structure can be described in generic terms. This is equally true for organisations working in the transport sector, who are dealing with international trade and agreements between buyers and sellers everyday:

3. There are already many sectors specific certification schemes in the world – why did you feel it was necessary to put together an ISO PC and what will an ISO standard add?

Chain of Custody standards are currently not dealt with in the WTO. A common understanding on a reference with regards to Chain of Custody within ISO will therefore be a good starting point. The expectation is that the ISO CoC standard is especially valuable for new initiatives as guidance on terms and definitions and basic CoC system requirements.

Many companies have made public commitment with regards to responsible sourcing and sustainability but with 230+ sustainability standards and codes the playing field is confusing and it is increasingly challenging to make an educated choice.

ITC has assessed how 230 standards that define Chain of Custody from which ISO PC308 project leader, Mr. Lamolle, draws the following conclusions:

  • There is no harmonized definition of good practice in Chain of Custody management;
  • There is a need for alignment in expectations between all stakeholders (private and public, standards organisations and companies);
  • There is a good potential for enhancing efficiency in value chains by providing more transparency of the key elements that make a Chain of Custody model very robust and credible.

4. What kinds of organizations are involved in the PC?

The organizations committed to the work of ISO/PC 308 is very broad. Whereas many Dutch stakeholders are active in the food and feed supply chain, many British stakeholders have their origin in the construction business. Next to the strong representation of producing industry players, the committee has a good representation of service providers (e.g. auditors and certification schemes, auditors), universities, retailers, financial institutions, government services and NGO’s. Chain of Custody experts from ITC and ISEAL have joined the process to contribute their expertise and to make maximum use of the synergies between ISO and their own mission.. We are glad that the participation from ISO members all over the world is picking up with Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Indonesia being the frontrunners. We are hoping for more countries to join to ensure a smooth implementation of the ISO 22095 ‘Chain of Custody’ standard.

5. What standards or projects do you have in the pipeline?

Once the ISO/PC 308 members have come to an agreement on the generic Chain of Custody terms and definitions and requirements for supply chain actors, it would be interesting to see whether it is possible to develop sector specific annexes as an add on to the core standard. This will be investigated in due course.

6. What kind of organizations will benefit?

A credible Chain of Custody system is the value generating side of traceability as it has an immediate effect on consumer trust.

Nofima, Petter Olsen (research & education)

By being able to transparently demonstrate to your partner organizations that you are in control of your own supply chain with a sound Chain of Custody system will result a more trust. Trust from your business partners, consumers, financial institutions, auditors and government agents. Therefore all organizations will ultimately benefit from a harmonized Chain of Custody standard, which ensures that all supply chain actors are speaking the same language:

Vion Food, Bert Urlings (originator meat industry)

Until 2015 mainly financial information was used to assess whether the financial institute should invest in a project or organization. Since 2015 the intangible assets have been becoming more and more important as it has become a means to judge, whether a company will be able to sustain its financial performance. The EU Directive on non-financial information touches on ISO 26000 and integrated reporting. The Chain of Custody is an important tool for a bank to assess whether the customer is in control of its business practices. A standard giving guidance to supply chain actors how to build a reliable chain of Custody system is therefore important.

ABN AMRO, André Jakobs (financial services)