END-to-end traceability delivered through blockchain technology could provide a new level of trust and integrity to align with consumers' growing demands for authenticity on what they consume.
Andrew Grant has co-founded several AgTech startups, including smart tracking software solution Trust Provenance, from his base in Adelaide, South Australia.
The platform integrates data points along the supply chain from paddock to plate, enabling heightened integrity across food safety, traceability, biosecurity, quality and provenance.
Trust Provenance works by capturing touchpoints along a product's journey in real-time, integrating these onto one platform and securing the data points in the blockchain.
The data is then presented in a digital format allowing producers, packers, processors, retailers, quality inspectors and consumers to know the true journey of a product.
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"We can provide this new level of integrity on data which has a mixture of uses, including product safety, quality optimisation, identifying inefficiency in your supply chain, and telling the true story about provenance," Mr Grant said.
"Remember the saga of needles in strawberries and deaths caused from leafy greens in the US?
"It took weeks and months to track down the source, cost the industry many millions and you instantly erode brand value and consumer trust.
"These issues can be removed by new traceability platforms like ours."
Citrus Australia is piloting Trust Provenance for fruit grown in Victoria's Sunraysia region to back up the provenance story and prevent counterfeiting.
It has also engaged with leading mango producer Manbulloo in Queensland and is currently lining up a new project with leading South Australian producers and food manufacturers.
Mr Grant said he sees the potential for traceability across the state's grain, horticulture, red meat, wool and seafood industries - many of which are major employers in regional areas.
I'm an avid believer that secure traceability will be part of the 'ticket to play'. If you're not doing it, they (leading domestic retailers and export markets) won't have your product because customers are asking for it.
"I think SA has a massive opportunity to step up and lead in the traceability space, and I would argue we have producers and brand leaders here in SA that understand the value traceability brings," he said.
"It will allow us to sell more product into more markets with better margins, create more brand value and underpin further investment and regional employment."
Mr Grant warns the buzzwords 'clean and green' can no longer be thrown around without authenticity when marketing food and wine, particularly to export markets.
Instead, he says, we must adopt smart traceability systems to improve transparency and increase reassurance around provenance.
"The days of 'hand on heart, I guarantee my produce is clean, green, safe and of this quality' are limited," he said.
"I'm an avid believer that secure traceability will be part of the 'ticket to play'. If you're not doing it, they (leading domestic retailers and export markets) won't have your product because customers are asking for it".
TRUST Provenance isn't the only AgTech innovation to Mr Grant's name.
Alongside business partner Remo Carbone, who is originally from Adelaide and now based in New York, he co-founded tech commercialisation company Availer in 2016.
Its first business was MEQ Probe, technology that uses a medical grade laser probe to measure marbling and tenderness of red meat.
The technology platform was first developed by the University of Adelaide's Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, looking at cancerous margins in breast cancer.
Mr Grant and Mr Carbone began working with the centre's director Professor Mark Hutchinson and saw a potential for its use in the meat industry, providing an objective measure of meat quality compared to the subjective judgement of the human eye.
MEQ Probe has since undertaken trials around Australia, including with leading regional South Australian meat processors Teys Australia in Naracoorte.
Mr Grant is also a member of the state's AgTech Advisory Group, which is helping create the state's AgTech Adoption Strategy, a draft of which was recently released.
- This story first appeared on The Lead.
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