Trials have shown that horticulture producers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers could benefit from the adoption of a digital standards-based traceability system.
The pilot program, conducted as part of a Food Agility CRC collaborative project, used GS1 data standards to create a digital map of properties and the movement of products in NSW cherry and potato supply chains.
Project leader and NSW Department of Primary Industries Development Officer, Jessica Fearnley said researchers simulated a product recall in track-and–trace trials.
"The project has shown that GS1 data standards can be used to provide instant product identification and recall, something that's critical during an emergency situation such as biosecurity incursion or food safety breach," she said. "The system also supports the electronic flow of information to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, and this has the potential to improve market access and reduce compliance costs for the industry."
Unique serialized QR codes with a GS1 Digital Link label were applied to Woolworths-branded bags of brushed potatoes and punnets of organic cherries as part of the project.
The data was managed via FreshChain's fully integrated, blockchain-enabled, paddock-to-plate assurance system.
This allowed the product to be traced in real-time, from property to store, providing information about how the product moved along the supply chain and the time spent at each location.
Food Agility Chief Scientist, Professor David Lamb, said the research has provided a proof-of-concept that can be developed for other supply chains.
"This type of integrated traceability system offers many potential benefits for growers, exporters, governments, and consumers, including providing assurances of food safety, provenance, and authenticity of products," Professor Lamb said.
"It also provides the framework for data standards and integration of traceability systems that could be expanded to other agrifood supply chains."
Importantly, using a new GS1 Digital Link QR code on packaging provided an opportunity for real-time feedback from consumers.
FreshChain Systems, Greg Calvert said data sets can provide powerful insights to inform decisions to reduce costs, grow profit, and build a community of supporters.
"Growers and brand owners can take advantage of the digital age with integrated smart labeling and packaging to share generational farming stories, sustainability initiatives, and product attributes that form a growing part of the buying decision criteria at the point of purchase," he said.
The CherryPlus project was a collaboration between Food Agility, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Woolworths, FreshChain Systems, GS1 Australia and Cherry Growers Australia, Mitolo Family Farms, and Cantrill Organics.
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