Supply Chain Traceability and Trust

Posted on October 29, 2018

Food Safety Concerns

Around the world, food safety is of increasingly pressing concern. In the global economy, the food we consume has typically moved between numerous people and companies before it reaches our table. This affects freshness, the amount of waste produced, and ecological sustainability.

Consumer trust is dependent on a reliable source of products, and threats to this reliability – such as outbreaks of salmonella linked to eggs and poultry – are a current challenge in the supply chain. 1 in 10,000 eggs produced in Northeastern USA are estimated to have contamination with Salmonella, and poultry is also a vector for its spreading. Beef, water, fresh produce, as well as snack foods have all been associated with Salmonella outbreaks.

Recent technological and scientific developments, however, present some intriguing solutions.

Technology-based Solutions

A number of companies are developing innovative technologies and tools to connect every touchpoint along the food supply chain; improving trust in the food & beverage industry worldwide.

IBM Food Trust uses blockchain technology to connect growers, processors, distributors and retailers in a link of information to engender visibility and accountability in the supply chain. Europe’s largest retailer Carrefour SA recently adopted this tool to track and trace chicken, eggs and tomatoes. Carrefour Secretary General Laurent Vallee told Reuters, “The key thing for us as Carrefour is to be able to say when there is a crisis that we have the blockchain technology, so we are able to trace products and tell the story of the products.”

Science-based Solutions

Whilst blockchain technology improves speed of information flow and transactional visibility, it is not foolproof when it comes to supply chain traceability and trust, as it still relies on packaging or barcodes that can be copied. Taking a different perspective, science-based solutions can verify the integrity of the product itself (what is inside the packaging), ensuring no adulteration, substitution, or tampering has occurred.

Oritain are world-leaders in using forensic science to do just this, testing and analysing a product’s naturally occurring chemical properties to determine where it was produced or manufactured. These chemical properties are unique to the specific geolocation a product is grown or manufactured in, and once analysed provide an equally unique geochemical ‘fingerprint of origin’. Oritain conduct testing at various points in the supply chain comparing in market samples to the product’s established fingerprint of origin. A consistent test result confirms the product is true to its claimed origin and is therefore what it says it is; an inconsistent test result implies product adulteration, substitution, or tampering of some kind.

Low-tech Solutions

While global businesses can benefit immediately from investment in such innovations, smaller companies can improve traceability in their supply chains by developing stronger relationships with their partners and consumers. Relationships have always been the foundation of trustworthy businesses, and this will never change.

At Export Connect, we work hard to develop and maintain strong relationships in international markets and across the food and beverage sector; and our broad networks within Australia span suppliers, government agencies and industry associations. If you’re interested in growing your international footprint, reach out. The business relationships we have cultivated may provide the access you need for exponential growth.

Image courtesy of ‘nasa’ on Unsplash.

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