SecQuAL consortium launches smart labels initiative for meat manufacturing

SecQuAL consortium launches smart labels initiative for meat manufacturing

A group of 11 UK companies across the meat industry aims to reduce waste and build consumer confidence in food supply chains through a new data and technology project.

The consortium has been awarded funding for this project by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the ‘Made Smarter Innovation’ initiative delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

The SecQuAL (Secure Quality Assured Logistics for Digital Food Ecosystems) project will initially focus on the application of smart labels in pork production, to reduce food waste and increase consumer confidence in the food they purchase.

Smart labels are unique digital IDs which can be attached to food, allowing it to be traced, tracked and monitored in real-time. The technology, according to SecQuAL, can be applied throughout the supply chain to:

  • provide information on food provenance
  • monitor cold chain conditions
  • more accurately predict shelf-life
  • enable direct feedback from consumers to producers
  • identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in supply chains
  • allow for remote regulatory oversight and compliance.

SecQuAL’s aim is to enable a new breed of high growth UK based innovators to develop critical and integrated technologies which support the increasing digitalisation and provenance transparency of food supply chains through the benefits of blockchain technologies. It is reported that the group will work alongside the established supply chain which is grappling with the added challenges and opportunities of post-Brexit international trade and the current pandemic.

The consortium consists of organisations including IBM with IBM Food Trust, Cranswick Foods PLC and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Some the projects key objectives will focus on:

  • Working with technology leaders to develop solutions that support digitalisation and transparency of food supply, through blockchain technologies
  • Developing approaches to standardise the collection and sharing of data and building platforms that deliver the right analytical capabilities
  • Consulting the wider food sector to address the needs of alternative food supply chains in the design of the pilot.

Clive Stephens, head of research and development at Cranswick PLC, said: “We are excited to join the SecQuAL programme to improve traceability throughout the supply chain; reduce waste, especially once products leave our sites, and to utilise a tool to directly engage and educate consumers about the provenance and quality of the products they are purchasing.”

Prof. Rick Mumford, head of science, evidence & research at the FSA said: “The Food Standards Agency is delighted to be part of the SecQuAL consortium. As a modern regulator, we regularly explore innovative approaches to enhance food safety and standards. As a partner, we will get a chance to engage first-hand with leading-edge technology and evaluate the potential this might have for supporting the work we do with industry to ensure food supply chain integrity.”

“A lasting impact”

Luq Niazi, global managing director for consumer industries at IBM said: “Trust, sustainability, authenticity and transparency are now the values embedded in the social contract between consumers, retailers and food producers.”

He continued: “SecQuAL brings together the key players needed to improve trust across the full supply chain – from farm to fork. At the same time, there is also opportunity to reduce waste and have a lasting impact on the use of the earth’s resources. Having such a high-quality group of members in the consortium means many of the bases are covered in the UK bringing a unique synergy of knowledge, technology and experience to make a difference for the food value chain.”

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