• Image: Agriculture Victoria
    Image: Agriculture Victoria
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Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) has secured funding for a major innovative project which aims to strengthen traceability for cherry exports’ high-value markets.

CGA and Agriculture Victoria will partner to lead the cherry supply chain traceability pilot for on-farm traceability and high-value export markets. The project is funded through Agriculture Victoria’s Transforming Traceability program. 

The Australian cherry industry has a total value of $189 million, with exports worth $79.5 million. At its peak, Victorian cherry growers exported almost 2000 tonnes to 30 countries annually, at a value of $30.8 million.

Over two years from 2022 to 2024, the pilot will build and protect exports by developing automated and integrated traceability systems, which track the product journey from on-farm harvest through to customer.

The system being put in place will have the ability to identify product back to a carton or consignment level. 

Hugh Molloy, treasurer of CGA, welcomed the project and said traceability was pivotal for reinforcing competitiveness in international markets. 

“Traceability will enable Australian cherry growers to underpin the provenance, authenticity, food safety and other biosecurity certifications to importing countries, buyers and consumers,” he explained.

“The traceability information captured in this pilot will underpin the integrity of Australian production systems, enhance our competitiveness in international and domestic markets, and facilitate the sharing of our stories from orchard to plate.”

The pilot program will be conducted through a large Victorian producer and exporter, CherryHill Orchards, who will integrate the developing hardware and software technologies into their supply chain to apply the traceability technology to their premium cherry brands.

While on-farm traceability is well developed in the cherry industry, it may be a paper-based system, and usually ends when cherries enter export countries, preventing Australian producers from tracing their produce and leveraging the value of their brands.

The pilot will run within the Australian cherry industry, and will aim to deliver value for all Australian commodity sectors and international markets through:

  • Developing technology for the pilot with the potential for future use across the cherry industry;
  • Development and use of traceability technology with flexibility to be used in many markets;
  • Implementation of international GS1 standards;
  • A communication program; and
  • A public report accessible to all. 

“Traceability technology when developed and implemented well, across food and produce industries, will help grow and protect the reputation of our region, and the broader value of ‘Brand Australia’,” explained Stephen Riseborough, director of CherryHill Orchards.

“CherryHill is excited to be involved in the traceability pilot and to help play a part in our future regional success story.”

Technology systems include RFID scanners supplied by Ramp and software from Dialog Information Technology, and GS1 traceability standards will be incorporated into the pilot, enhancing the international compatibility of these supply chains for global exports and domestic markets. 

“GS1 Australia is always pleased to support traceability projects by providing advice on GS1 standards and labelling options,” said Marcel Sieira, chief customer officer for GS1 Australia.

“GS1 offers a wide range of services to support members, their industry associations and trading partners to implement the GS1 system. Its standards enable organisations to identify, capture and share information smoothly, creating a common language that underpins systems and processes all over the world.”

Ramp will provide inventory management software and RFID technology to enhance on-farm traceability.

“Ramp is delighted to be part of the technology solution for traceability for the internationally acclaimed Australia cherry industry,” commented Pete Reinke, CEO of Ramp. 

“Leveraging our inventory management software and RFID expertise, we help provide Australia’s premium cherry producer, CherryHill Orchards, peace of mind in relation to the authenticity of their products through the global supply chain, to protect their esteemed brand.

“CherryHill customers will be assured of purchasing produce of the best quality as the movements of product is tracked from the orchard at harvest time.”

As the technology provider for the project, Dialog Information Technology will be linking up CherryHill’s ERP fresh produce system with two technologies – RFID farm and packing scanning, and GS1 Digital Link for supply chain tracking and consumer engagement. 

“As the food industry heads toward a more transparent future, technology will be a key factor in automating and collecting traceability data. The good news is this leading technology is available now, and will be demonstrated in this exciting initiative,” Steve Sharp, account manager for Dialog Information Technology, concluded. 

The Victorian government’s Transforming Traceability program is a $11.7 million commitment to invest in the state’s traceability systems across the agri-food supply chain.

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