Improved traceability necessary to protect Australian exports
17 September 2020
Citrus Australia’s decision to engage with Agriculture Victoria in a $200,000 pilot program aimed at improving traceability in horticulture supply chains was borne out of necessity.
CEO Nathan Hancock said the scope and audacity of IP theft cost individual citrus businesses and the wider citrus industry millions of dollars every year.
“The citrus industry relies on its quality and the safety of the product we produce here in Australia,” Nathan said.
“We have a premium product in our export markets and we need to be able to prove to our end supplier the origin of our product.”
Under the pilot project, announced at the MOF in March, Citrus Australia has engaged technology companies Laava ID, provider of Laava Smart Fingerprint technology, and Trust Provenance, a provider of blockchain technology, to develop a traceability system for export citrus fruit supply chains.
Laava ID uses advanced computer vision technology developed in collaboration with CSIRO to produce a unique ‘fingerprint’ that can be scanned by any smartphone.
Unlike barcodes or QR codes which have been used in the past, Laava’s Smart Fingerprint technology is much harder to impersonate or replicate (a technique known as ‘spoofing’) and much more secure, making it more resistant to counterfeiting.
Trust Provenance has built an integrity system that allows multiple data points to be linked into the one data platform.
Fruit grown by Nu Leaf IP and packed at Mildura Fruit Company has been labelled and landed in China. Boxes and 1kg pre-packs are now being sold in stores with the Laava Smart Fingerprint technology.
Nu Leaf IP General Manager, Matthew Cottrell, one of the partners in the project, said growers invest significant time and resources planting premium varieties such as Tang-gold.
Nu Leaf IP is the master licensee in Australia for Tang-gold, a high value seedless mandarin variety bred by the University of California, Riverside, USA.
“By using the digital fingerprint labelling on our packaging and our blockchain, it will help us protect our brands and also will allow the customer to directly access proof of origin and also the features of our fruit.
“For consumers, it also helps give confidence that they are buying a premium variety with the features they desire.
“This technology is providing benefits throughout the supply chain, from legitimising plantings and fruit through to the protection of brands.”
Laava ID CEO Gavin Ger said the trial proved that the unique Fingerprint technology could integrate with existing systems, in this case, MFC.
“Any pack house of any fruit can apply this solution,” Gavin said. “It’s a game changer.”
The project adds further value by providing consumers with additional information.
“By scanning the Laava Smart Fingerprint with their mobile phone, consumers can authenticate the products that they buy, learn more about their products, and engage deeper with the brands that made them,” Gavin said.
“The benefits of blockchain in traceability is that any data point that is stored on the blockchain cannot be changed,” Trust Provenance CEO Andrew Grant said.
“Bringing all these data sets together on the one platform also enables a number of business efficiencies and ultimately that brings a fresher and better quality product through to the consumer, who will have confidence they’re buying authentic Australian grown produce.
“In this project, we’re integrating data points from the grower, the pack shed, the logistics company, the food safety certification body and from
data loggers which have got GPS and temperature data points throughout the journey.”