Citrus Australia to undertake $200,000 pilot project on traceability
13 March 2020
Agriculture Victoria has engaged peak body Citrus Australia to undertake a $200,000 pilot program aimed at improving traceability in horticulture supply chains.
Emerging technology has the ability to strengthen traceability in fruit supply chains – from the farm right through to domestic and international consumers.
The pilot traceability scheme will demonstrate the application of these technologies to a horticultural business in a real time environment – from application of unique codes to individual packs, through to tracking them in the marketplace.
Potential weaknesses in the ability to validate the provenance of Australian citrus, counterfeiting and food recalls can all jeopardise supply chains and these will be addressed in the pilot.
Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes, said:
“Our traceability practices are crucial to building confidence in our horticulture sector, creating a shared understanding about how our food is produced.
“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 CEO, Nathan Hancock, said:
“The Australian citrus industry has grown to over 27,000 hectares and contributes over $850 million to the national economy through farm gate sales.
“In 2019 the industry achieved new export records of 304,000 tonnes of high quality citrus at a value of A$541 million.
“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 citrus fruit.”
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 pilot for export citrus fruit supply chains extending from Australian growers to overseas consumers.
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.
It also delivers detailed brand and product information and interactive experiences to consumers and can be easily modified to include new features.
Trust Provenance have built an integrity system that allows multiple data points on a product to be linked into the one data platform.
Real-time, digitised data, secured using distributed ledger cybersecurity infrastructure (aka blockchain) and available to supply-chain partners using permission for who-sees-what.
Citrus Australia partners in the trial will include Mildura Fruit Company, Australia’s largest packer and exporter of fresh citrus, and Nu Leaf IP, which is the master licensee in Australia for Tang-gold, a high value seedless mandarin variety bred by the University of California, Riverside, USA.
MFC Sales and Marketing Manager, Marcus Scott, said the company was excited to take part in the trial.
“Protecting our brand is vitally important now, and will be even more so in the future. We are excited to see how this technology can be applied to the advantage of the industry.”
Nu Leaf IP General Manager, Matthew Cottrell, said growers invest significant time and resources planting premium varieties such as Tang-gold.
“So it is crucial that technology that can support and protect growers and the proprietary varieties also improves and innovates.
“Nu Leaf sees benefits in this technology throughout the supply chain, from legitimising plantings and fruit through to the protection of brands.”
The project will be delivered within a seven-month period that encompasses the 2020 citrus harvest period.
Results of the trial will be used to educate other horticultural industries of the benefits of traceability.