Traceability in action – Tracing citrus from tree to table

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Agriculture Victoria partnered with Citrus Australia to trial innovative traceability technologies along the citrus supply chain from tree to table – demonstrating the benefits for growers and consumers. Read on and watch the video here.

Victoria is a major exporter of citrus, exporting 118,000 tonnes of citrus worth $177 million in 2019-20.

Globally, consumers are demanding more information on where their food and fibre comes from. Improved traceability is an emerging capability in food supply chains that can provide assurances to consumers about how and where their food is produced. It can also help manage biosecurity and food safety risks, prove country of origin, reduce instances of food fraud, and support access to new and existing markets. Improved traceability can also monitor potential incidents such as temperature fluctuations and delays in transit along the export pathway.

In the same way that consumers want more information about the origins of their food, growers want more information about where their food is going. Growers invest time and money into developing premium varieties — traceability can help protect that investment.

Many food and fibre businesses already use traceability systems to track production and make sure they are meeting consumer standards. But new technologies are being developed every day.

The citrus traceability trial ran from March to September 2020, with the produce entering export markets from late August.  It used innovative labelling and blockchain technologies to trace more than 400,000 kilograms of premium varieties of oranges from Nu Leaf I.P. orchards in Mildura through the Mildura Fruit Company packhouse, to international consumers.

Citrus Australia engaged two technology companies through the trial. Laava provided digital fingerprint labelling which is a more secure digital form of product identification.  Laava labels, which can be scanned using mobile phones, were attached to the produce bags and boxes prior to export.

Blockchain technology, provided by Trust Provenance, was then used to link multiple data points from businesses along the supply chain. The Trust Provenance blockchain ledger is encrypted so it cannot be altered, providing a reliable record of a product’s journey from grower to consumer.

Combining these two technologies enables consumers to instantly access information about the product’s journey and origin. Data from the trial indicates that the labels were scanned by overseas consumers and businesses at over 50 retail and wholesale locations.

The trial provided an opportunity to implement and test innovative traceability solutions within a live horticulture export supply chain. It provided practical insights on how to best integrate technology with existing supply chain systems and ensure collaborative commitment of multiple stakeholders in implementing a flow of traceability data from grower through to consumer.

Through this trial, the citrus industry has seized the opportunity to improve traceability within its supply chain. Through the use of innovative traceability technologies, Victoria has an opportunity to strengthen our reputation as a world leading producer of premium food and fibre products, giving international consumers’ confidence they are buying Victorian produce and allowing Victorian growers to better capitalise on the state’s reputation as a quality producer.

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