AUSVEG:

Bridging the gap between farm and packhouse with provenance verification technology

The uptake of new technologies to provide traceability within the fruit and vegetable industry has increased over the last few years. This is partially in response to the recent food tampering and contamination crises, but also through an industry wide recognition that good traceability systems offer many benefits to producers.

Effective traceability systems offer specific information about the movement of produce within supply chains, data about consumer purchasing habits, increased production and logistical efficiencies, opportunities for longer shelf life and the reduction of product waste. Traceability systems rely on chain of custody data to record the movement of stock within supply chains and the record of this data begins at the place where produce is allocated a scannable label or code, which typically occurs at the packhouse.

With labelling occurring at the packhouse, a traceability gap exists in the supply chain prior to this point, where produce is still loose and unidentifiable through digital or paper based means. This is especially prevalent in fruit and vegetable industries where large amounts of unlabelled produce arrive at packhouses from multiple sources.

This creates a lack of visibility to that product’s source of origin, being the exact farm it was grown and harvested at. While the link between provenance (source of origin) and packhouse may appear insignificant within the vast scale of some supply chains, there are two key reasons why it is critical to have the ability to connect a product to its true provenance.

Protecting premium products
Almost all values based promises are delivered at the source of production. Premium products have values based promises attached to them such as ‘pesticide free’, ‘organic’ or ‘sustainably sourced’. As these promises are generally delivered at the product’s source of origin, it is essential to have a way of linking a product to its provenance at any point in the supply chain in case you need to verify the integrity of these claims.

Many consumers also purchase based on these claims, so you want to ensure there is a way of proving that the product is what it claims to be, and that your premium product isn’t being substituted along the way.

Source Certain’s scientific provenance approach involves analysis of the actual product and thus is independent of packaging and label claims. With 40 years of extensive development and recognition as a legally accepted forensic tool, Source Certain’s technology offers a definitive way to prove authenticity and origin claims, giving consumers confidence in what they buy, and protecting a producer’s investment in value adding to premium products.

Protecting producers
Contamination and food tampering issues may arise from dishonest competitors, negligence of downstream buyers or simply food going off. While good digital traceability systems can trace a product in question as far back as the packhouse, they cannot distinguish between products that have co-mingled from multiple sources when arriving at the packhouse unmarked. This can cause industry wide chaos resulting in loss of industry value, loss of consumer trust, reputational damage to producers and retailers, and mass product dumping.

By testing the product in question and linking it to a specific farm or source of origin, we narrow down how much product needs to be taken off shelf, and facilitate faster re-entry to market for unaffected producers.

Scientific provenance verification provides an additional layer of security to producers who have invested in premiumising their product, or supply within an industry prone to food contamination or tampering. While digital traceability systems are an effective means of capturing chain of custody data and showing movement of product throughout supply chains, a scientific methodology that physically tests the product itself adds an essential layer of security to fruit and vegetable supply chains.

Source Certain’s provenance verification technology is adopted by producers as a scientific layer of security to verify product provenance, authenticity and chain of custody data. As a global leader in supply chain integrity and provenance science, Source Certain provides impartial verification of product provenance as its methods are completely independent of associated data labels and packaging.

When working with fruit and vegetable producers, one of its objectives is to provide a solution to bridging the traceability gap between farm and packhouse. By doing this, Source Certain’s solutions allows for visibility to a product’s provenance and increased transparency within a critical stage in the supply chain.

See the latest work from Source Certain here.


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