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Developments and innovation in supply chain software

Britain’s food and drink manufacturers are being urged to adopt the latest software and digital technology to help ensure greater efficiency, together with security of their supply chains, in an increasingly global world.

The biggest challenge facing the UK food supply chain is the demand from consumers for greater visibility – where food comes from and its safety, according to Rob Chester, UK managing director for food safety auditing and certification company NSF International. “Consumers want more transparency about what is happening in the supply chain,” ​says Chester.

Although we have very good systems in most supply chains, they were never built with that visibility and transparency in mind. The further you get from retailers and their primary suppliers, the harder it becomes to get all the data and information they are looking for.”

In response to this need, last year NSF embarked on a UK farm-to-supermarket blockchain trial of the beef supply chain (see box below). This moves to its next stage in 2020, including investigations into the potential use of “cow passports”​ to eliminate the need for physical border checks on the movement of animals between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit, says Chester.

Security via blockchain

Blockchain-service-for-beef-products BOXOUT image

Using the latest systems makes the farm-to-fork supply chain process simpler and more agile, say system developers

Encryption of data using blockchain technology is increasingly being applied to food and drink supply chains to reduce the risk of fraudulent data tampering and ensure the authenticity of product origin.

NSF International has carried out trials with an unnamed UK retailer, using its NSF Verify app and platform, from field to supermarket shelf. In the trial, beef farmers use smartphones linked to a database, which helps them improve their efficiency while raising visibility along the supply chain for consumers. Records are secured on a community blockchain.

Elsewhere, Connecting Food, founded in 2016, has set up a QR code-based blockchain subscription service for farmers, brand owners and retailers to ensure traceability and build consumer trust. The service’s LiveAudit module provides customers with a customised dashboard, allowing them to see where a product is in their supply chain.

And US company Elemica has engaged in a food blockchain initiative with the AgGateway organisation, involving manufacturers, distributors and retailers within the agricultural sector. Elemica’s mission is to facilitate the industry’s transformation to a digital infrastructure, thus maximising efficiency and productivity.

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