Merit-Trax technology for fresh produce traceability

Related tags Traceability Food Food quality

The partnership between Merit-Trax, Syscan and Sensor Wireless is
the latest development in the traceability of fresh produce.

Merit-Trax Technologies has selected Syscan International as its exclusive supplier of RFID technology for its Trax-IT Fructus software application. The application is designed to record and report quality inspections and environmental conditions of fresh fruits and vegetables from harvest to retail.

"Merit-Trax has developed an innovative software/hardware offering for the fresh fruits and vegetables segment of the food industry supply chain that is a perfect fit for our RFID technology,"​ said Syscan International president Axel Striefler.

"The immense potential of the fruit and vegetable marketplace is extremely exciting for our company and the sector is highly synergistic with our meat and seafood segment. We believe that Merit-Trax will play an important role in the deployment of our technology in the Americas."

Sensor Wireless has been selected to supply its sensor technology, which will provide environmental and physio-chemical information to complement the system.

The Merit-Trax solution provides traceability and automates the capture of the physio-chemical quality and environmental data of fresh produce. This, says the company, enables producers to measure the benefits of precision farming methods.

The technology also provides traceability to verify the quality of fresh produce as it moves through the supply chain by monitoring temperature and environmental conditions in real-time.

"Our Trax-IT Fructus software provides traceability, quality and inspection management in real-time from seed to the retailer's backdoor,"​ said Merit-Trax director of sales and marketing Bob Aubertin.

"We strongly believe that Syscan's RFID technology will play a significant role in delivering an effective, efficient, value added application for our customers."

The application will be compliant with the EAN/UCC Global Standards for traceability and with international regulations for exporting produce to markets outside of Canada.

Developments in the traceability of fresh produce is increasing. Food Safe International and DTG Industries for example recently formed a partnership to create RFID traceability and tracking solutions for perishable fruits and vegetables.

Food Safe will work with DTG to industrialise iPico's unique dual frequency RFID tags, readers and middleware in perishable containers to provide full traceability from the field to the retail shelf. Food Safe and DTG will market and integrate the combined solution to global food producers thereby creating an integrated food-source management, marketing, source verification system, and food safety process from the producer to the consumer.

Canada-based Food Safe​ and DTG are keen to exploit a perceived gap in the market. Food is one of the most mobile commodities traded internationally, and perishable goods are increasingly being shipped longer distances.

On top of this, consumers - and the law - are demanding greater assurances of food quality and safety. Both companies feel that they are well positioned to provide an RFID solution to track fruit and vegetable production simply and cost-effectively.

Unlike other traceability programmes, Food Safe claims to offer a proactive approach to food safety. The company claims that there is a growing international consensus that producers and food industry stakeholders require a reliable methodology and technology for verifying food production and food safety. Stringent legislation, consumer concerns about food safety and growing pressure from retailers have forced food manufacturers to look at every possible means of ensuring traceability and efficiency throughout the supply chain. RFID is increasingly being seen as the most viable solution.

The importance of the concept is that it recognises the interconnectness of the food industry. It suggests that that closer collaboration between every aspect of the food supply chain is inevitable.

Legislation has been a significant driver. The recent US Bioterrorism Act and forthcoming EU legislation on traceability have added to the pressure on manufacturers to get their house in order and be able to trace products right through the chain. The problem traditionally has been a lack of investment in the food production sector.

This is now beginning to happen on the manufacturing side, through tracking and tracing and through closer collaboration with retailers. Industry experts believe that over the next few years, manufacturers will have achieved significantly tighter control over their processing and packaging operations.

Ultimately, it is in the manufacturer's long-term interest to invest in a system that can trace and organise operations from start to finish. The cost of compensation or a product recall means that the cost of installing RFID systems is less of a factor than it ever was.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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