5 Questions with Neil Aeschliman RTI’s New Expert in Residence



RTI is excited to be working with Neil Aeschliman, an expert in various data standards, including GS1 and FSMA 204. We asked Neil to answer five questions. Here is what he said:


So Neil, what’s your background in?

My career in supply chain visibility started with ensuring seafood was harvested sustainably. When companies make sustainability commitments, they need visibility into sourcing and operations to ensure they are on track. Starting with a complex product like seafood established a robust foundation that I drew from later when working with other food commodities, CPG, and pharmaceuticals.


What are some challenges on the horizon for the food and beverage industry?

I see two big challenges coming around the bend. Any company who plays a part in putting food on American plates should be making plans for the new food traceability regulation from the FDA, aka FSMA 204. The expectation for tracing many fresh and frozen foods will take a big leap in less than 3 years when the regulation goes into effect.

Secondly, the consumer is buying foods in ways that were unimaginable 10  years, 10 months, or 10 weeks ago. I predict that food companies that will win are the ones who double down on fresh, high-quality foods while continuing to re-invent how to serve the consumer.


How would you describe the need for FSMA 204?

Our monthly credit card statement can tell a story of many of the places we visited and what we find worth buying. But if we want to remember the people we were with and the memories we shared we need to turn to the photo albums on our phones. It’s the same for supply chains, accounting ledgers can only get us so much information, visibility requires photo albums.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Supply chains are the quiet engine powering our world but they are filled with mystery. Sorry for sounding corny, but who knows what is possible if supply chains weren’t so opaque? I believe in the power of technology to transform how we look at supply chains. Playing my part in making that visible future a reality helps me spring out of bed each morning.


What’s your philosophy?

Technology and people can be funny partners in the supply chain. Too often, there is excitement for new tech to fix a human process only for frustration to creep in and hopes to be dashed. The best results when technology is designed to respect the unique abilities of humans. Only then can technology offer superior machine capabilities and complements to human behavior.


Be on the lookout for more from our Expert in Residence, Neil Aeschliman.