Special Edition: Track & Trace

‘Today, life is a bit more complicated’ – Agrantec CEO

By Martin Coates

- Last updated on GMT

Gavin Weeks of Blackmore Vale Butchery
Gavin Weeks of Blackmore Vale Butchery

Related tags Supply chain

There was a time when we all bought food locally and had a pretty good idea where it came from and how fresh it was.

Today, life is a bit more complicated - supermarkets rule the retail landscape and food supply and processing can be a multi-national operation.

The distance between producer and consumer can be vast and while globalisation may have led to lower prices, complexity and length of the supply chain introduces a range of risks from food unsafe to eat or that has been incorrectly processed to items that are not what they claim to be.

Consumer demand and legislative burden

Consumers demand more information about where food comes from, how it was reared or grown and processed and packed before landing on the supermarket shelf.

Follow this Food label  agrantec
FollowthisFood ‘active’ label. Picture: Agrantec

Each health scare or incidence of fraudulent labelling pushes food provenance and traceability higher up the agenda with ever-louder demands for greater confidence in what we eat.

While the legislative burden on producers and processors has never been greater, the market for premium-priced produce from sustainable sources has increased leading to the growth of farmers’ markets and organic veg box schemes.

The key to consumer confidence is information and the key to good information is cooperation between each link in the supply chain.

Effective traceability depends on each link sharing information so anyone can plot a route back to its source and check each of the steps in its journey.

An ‘active label’

Agrantec specialises in traceability software for food producers and processors.

The NotaZone cloud-based software is held in the cloud so subscribers don’t need any extra IT equipment or software. It provides a QR labelling system on packaging called ‘FollowThisFood’.

The system is used by businesses large and small to automate record-keeping and provide clear track and trace information along the supply chain as well as to the end consumer.

Until now, the clamour for more information on food quality and provenance has often focused on quality schemes and logos on labels.

While a simple ‘static’ label can offer a degree of reassurance, NotaZone offers the option of a FollowthisFood ‘active’ label which can be scanned with a smartphone revealing the history of the product back through the supply chain to the source producer and to an individual animal.

Just because the way we shop has changed doesn’t mean that its origins need to be a mystery. Active food labelling allows us to re-connect with the people that grow and process what we eat.

Case study examples

Blackmore Vale Butchery uses the NotaZone traceability software.

Quentin Edwards Cools Farm Red Poll cattle
Picture: Agrantec. Quentin Edwards, from Cools Farm in Wiltshire

Cools Farm supplies Dorset’s Blackmore Vale Butchery, a traditional family butcher run by Gavin Weeks, with a focus on supplying meat raised in the South West of England.
“We go to great efforts to work in a very selective and deliberate manner, processing individual animals carefully and completely, to produce the finest quality product for the producer and ultimately the consumer,”​ said Weeks.

“Using Agrantec’s NotaZone and the FollowThisFood unique code on every single item allows us to demonstrate that commitment to quality and transparency to the end consumer."
Weeks said it chose to use NotaZone's scanning technology to help reduce the risk of typing errors.

“It was simple to set up and works seamlessly with a tablet so we have a lot of flexibility about how we use the system. The regular training provided by the team has also ensured that new employees are up to speed fast, saving me a lot of time and effort."

Quentin Edwards is from Cools Farm in Wiltshire, which produces beef from self-reared Red Poll cattle. 

“The NotaZone system enables us to give a complete narrative from farm to table. At a click of a mouse, we can share detailed information on food welfare and compliance with our local partners, butchers, consumers and anyone else involved in getting our produce to the table.

“From a business point of view it also makes all complex compliance elements much more efficient and streamlined, saving huge amounts of time and money on paperwork. As a small producer this business support system has quickly become a vital tool.”

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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