Roughly 10% of all perishable goods – fresh produce and other food products – goes to waste before consumers buy it, according to Agrotechnology & Food Innovations (A&F). As a result, retailers have a particular challenge: how to keep perishables in stock and on the shelves without having them spoil. Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands believe the solution is RFID technology.
“We need the data to improve the supply chain for perishables,” says Frans-Peter Scheer, project manager in supply chain management at A&F. “RFID will play an important role in providing fast and accurate data.”
Scheer has developed Quality-Oriented Tracking and Tracing (QTT) which combines the ability to track goods through the supply chain with the recording of temperature, humidity and other data about the environmental condition of the products. It helps ensure that goods are not lost to spoilage, either in transit or after they arrive on the retailer’s shelf. “Tracking and tracing is a very important first step. We have to know the condition of food, not just for food safety and to avoid spoilage, but also for [the] taste and age of the product,” explains Sheer
A&F has been working with a Dutch retailer, a food processor, a logistics provider and a company to develop a pilot in which RFID tags will be attached to crates and distributed from the food processor’s facilities. Fresh mixed vegetables will be tracked as they move through the supply chain, with the RFID data revealing how long the vegetables took to move from one point to another in the chain.
Scheer says that by tracking products through the supply chain of other retailers, A&F should be able to create algorithms that determine the right replenishment schedule for specific products.