Citrus Australia will head a new traceability pilot program, encouraging better traceability in fruit supply chains.
Agriculture Victoria’s Program Manager for Traceability, Caroline Barrett made the announcement of $200,000 of funding from her organisation, to partner Citrus Australia, at the industry's Market Outlook Forum in Melbourne.
"Traceability is essentially a system used to provide information across a supply chain," she told the forum. "In the citrus industry, that means from the tree, right through to the table. Traceability is interesting as it can support many different areas, and the four key areas are; food safety, biosecurity, provenance authentication and market access. It also brings efficiencies across the supply chain at the same time."
Photo: Caroline Barrett from Agriculture Victoria announcing the funding and providing details on the traceability pilot program
The citrus export industry in Victoria is worth $162million, with national export value reaching a record $540million in 2019. This traceability pilot program is part of a wider $8million Agriculture Victoria program called Growing Food and Fibre Markets.
"It's essentially around strengthening the ability of producers in their capability and capacities, increasing the strength of their share within the global agri-food space as well as and strengthening their reputation as exporters," Ms Barrett said. "There are four key themes; to grow exports, broaden traceability, strengthen market access and bring about the next generation of market access technology. Our ultimate goal is to grow Victoria's food businesses to more than $20billion by 2030."
In December 2019, Agriculture Victoria met with Citrus Australia management to plot out the citrus supply chain and find hotspots for traceability.
Citrus Australia has engaged technology companies Laava and Trust Provenance to provide digital fingerprint labelling, a more secure digital form of product identification, while Trust Provenance will provide blockchain technology so that multiple data points can be linked into one platform in real-time.
The program will use these technologies to show traceability in horticultural businesses during a real-time environment; from using unique codes for the fruit through to tracking them in the marketplace.
"Who wants traceability? Consumers want it, the industry wants it and government want it - both in Australia and overseas," Ms Barrett said. "They want it for different reasons. Consumers are interested in it for food safety, and provenance authentication - those reasons are important to government and industry as well, but alongside that, they want biosecurity, market access and supply chain efficiencies."
Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes says the program will take place over seven months during the 2020 citrus harvest period from early May to the end of July. The results will be used to show other horticultural industries the benefits of traceability.
“Our traceability practices are crucial to building confidence in our horticulture sector, creating a shared understanding about how our food is produced,” Ms Symes said. “Our citrus industry continues to shine, with exports growing steadily year on year – I commend the Victorian citrus industry for taking this proactive step that will provide benefits for them and our trading partners.”
Citrus Australia Chief Executive Nathan Hancock added: “International customers are vital to the future success of the industry and we’re excited to lead this project, which will help secure existing and future market access and protect our reputation of growing the world’s best fruit.”
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