Australian cherry traceability pilot starts new phase

A pilot project led by Cherry Growers Australia aimed at injecting traceability into the supply chain and protecting against counterfeiting has entered its second harvest season, with a new technology to be put through its paces.

The first phase of the pilot, which started last year at local producer CherryHill Orchards, looked at the use of radiofrequency identification (RFID) supplied by RAMP for on-farm traceability. RFID tags track fruit as it is harvested in the orchard, received and processed at the packing shed, and dispatched to fulfil customer orders.

In the coming season, the scheme will ramp up with the addition of GS1 standards-compliant QR codes onto packaging that can be checked using a smartphone, without the need for RFID scanners. That will make automated identification of each pack and sharing of data with every business in the supply chain possible, and allow consumers to authenticate the packs.

The project, carried out in collaboration with Agriculture Victoria which provided A$811,000 in grant funding, is due to be completed next April, after which the results will be made available.

A similar traceability initiative by Tasmanian producer Reid Fruits using technology supplied by Laava showed that adding codes to boxes of cherries resulted in a big reduction of counterfeit attempts on the brand.

“Traceability remains pivotal to enhancing the competitiveness of our cherries in international markets,” commented Nick Noske, acting president of Cherry Growers Australia.

“It will reinforce the provenance, authenticity, and safety of our products,” he added. “The insights gained through this initiative continue to serve as a foundation of integrity for our industry, empowering us to navigate both local and global challenges.”

There is a big market for Australian cherries around the world, particularly in Asia where the fruit is a sought-after gift, but top brands are prone to substitution and counterfeiting.

“Cherries are the most anticipated and highly sought-after seasonal fruit here in Australia and in our valued export markets,” said Stephen Riseborough, director of CherryHill Orchards.

“Enabling traceability technology provides invaluable benefit through risk management and product assurance. It ensures that our cherries can be precisely traced back to their exact point of origin, demonstrating that they are indeed clean, safe, and reputable products,” he added.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

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