New Zealand and Australia have done ‘wonderful work’ in their produce industries. But after their products leave the farm or orchard, they might be caught up in the ‘messy middle’, says Gary Loh, a Singapore blockchain entrepreneur. This ‘messy middle’ can be anywhere between the farm and the consumer.
He’s had personal experience as former chief executive of fresh fruit company SunMoon Food Ltd, which he bought as a banker and had to completely turn around. That experience led him to found DiMuto, a Singapore trade technology service company with a Track & Trace blockchain platform for the produce industry.
The ‘messy middle’ needs to change, he says, and he wants to help solve the problems, he told this year’s PMA A-NZ HortConnections conference in Melbourne. Disputes and problems in the ‘messy middle’ can take 5-10% off the bottom line – they are a pain point.
“I had to talk to my finance team, I talked to my salesperson, I get to the shipping documents… and it all works in a manner where basically you have a barcode which doesn’t actually link it back to the documentation when you export. So you can see the batch but you can’t see the documentation.”
Examples of global trading problems include the needles-in-strawberry sabotage which happened mainly in Australia but affected export markets in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. Another problem occurs when documentation, cleared by one government, is then not accepted by another.
Also, big retailers tell the little suppliers what to do but they all have different systems. Computer company consultants can be expensive just to sort out one problem with one product.