From cow to cup: Fonterra aims for total dairy provenance

Aims for 'world-class electronic product traceability'

Fonterra has announced plans make its dairy products 100 percent traceable from “the raw milk source on-farm through every stage of manufacturing and every ingredient in every product sold in every market.”

It says that, already, all New Zealand and Australian-sourced products, representing 74 percent of total global production, can be electronically traced through the supply chain from manufacturing sites to customers.

Chief operating officer, global consumer and foodservice, Jacqueline Chow, said:“We are now making it possible to electronically trace the goodness in every drop of milk our farmers produce and the products we make from it, so traceability will extend back to milk off farms.

“Today as more products cross borders and consumers put more and more store in value of good nutrition, there is a growing demand for information about what goes into our food and for reassurance that it is produced with a great deal of care. Traceability provides consumers with reassurance.”

Fonterra’s general manager trust in source, Tim Kirk, said Fonterra was aiming for “world-class electronic product traceability, so if we have any concerns about any product we can electronically trace it anywhere in our supply chain within three hours.”

He added: “We are well advanced. By the end of this year 40 percent of our plants globally will have traceability data electronically connected, a further 50 percent of the plants will be included by the end of 2017, and the remaining 10 percent will be completed in 2018/2019.”

Fonterra says it has adopted the best practice GS1 global traceability standard used by world-class supply chains. This defines a minimum set of traceability requirements within business processes to achieve full electronic supply chain traceability.

Fonterra has given no indication of the technologies it will adopt, but blockchains are now being touted as a valuable tool for establishing provenance.

A recent article on The Conversation, Blockchains could help restore trust in the food we choose to eat explored the issue of how the technology could be used to provide assurance, and one UK organisation Provence.org, is already putting this into practice.

It already has half a dozen customers in Australia, including a distillery, a company that makes a wide range of products based on deer, a knife-maker, a guitar maker, and several wineries.

Food provenance will become increasingly important. One company, Food Agility, is bidding for Australian government research funding. It says: “Consumers in our markets are showing increasing interest in where food is produced, and in the freshness, safety and quality of food. They want to know where their food comes from, and they want to get the best value... As incomes rise in emerging economies, so too does kilojoule intake and, more importantly, a switch to protein takes place. Simply put the world is on the cusp of a huge leap in demand for higher-value food products.”

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