Australia's Bartle Frere Bananas using IoT and data to improve banana traceability
Everything from weather monitoring stations, soil moisture sensors, and RFID tags are helping Bartle Frere Bananas improve the way its bananas are grown and moved through the supply chain.
"If you can trace a cow, you can track anything," Gavin Devaney, owner and managing director of Bartle Frere Bananas told ZDNet. It's the reason why for the last two years he has been rolling out sensors and relying on data to improve the overall operation of his 250-acre North Queensland banana farm, including ensuring it meets management best practice.
On-site at Bartle Frere Bananas are weather monitoring stations and soil moisture sensors designed to help control irrigation levels on a section-by-section basis within each paddock, as well as solar-powered, inline nitrate sensors that regulate the use of fertilisation, monitor sediment, and reduce nitrate run-off.
Devaney explained that working with Hitachi Vantara to install these sensors has allowed him to gauge the size of the fruit and understand the potential impact that weather has on his crops.
"We're going through a process of seeing the effects of seasons and how bananas grow because, yes, we know that different seasons affect the fill rate on bananas and production, but this is giving us the actual micro measurement," he said.
The sensors have also helped to identify areas where Devaney was underwatering.
"Where I thought I was probably a high-water user, wasn't; I was underwatering … and I can see it in the crop" he said. "I haven't looked back since. I've been doing what I've been doing; it did change the way I had been watering and where I thought I could wait a little bit longer after the rain -- and I could do whatever I had to do -- but no, no, no I needed to be more in front of it and not behind it to be able to water right."
A supply-chain tracking system has been another addition to the farm's operations. Currently under trial, the farm has deployed radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, encoded with a unique identification number, to track and trace the fruit from farm to market for banana traceability.
RFID tags are attached to each banana bunch in the paddock, which according to Devaney, makes them easier to locate when they are ready for bagging.
"It works in favour for us to control traffic … because if only 20 bells come out that week … my bagger has to go out and find those 20 bunches in a 10-acre paddock, so instead of him driving up and down every row … we are able to turn around, give him the location of a bunch in that paddock," he said.
Once the bunches are sorted at the farm's shed, another Bluetooth barcode is affixed to the pallet to track the movement, temperature, and GPS location of the containers all the way to the shops. Being able to track and trace the fruit means better quality assurance, Devaney said.
"Look back to what happened to the strawberry industry, I never ever want to end up in that process where … due to something happening to a portion from our farm and I couldn't locate where the problem had come from … [we] might have to get rid of millions of dollars of fruit," he said.
The smart farm project was established between Bartle Frere Bananas and Hitachi Vantara, with funding support from the Australian government's National Landcare Program, Hort Innovation, as well as Horticultural Research, the Australian Banana Grower's Council, AusVeg, and more.
Tracking the World’s Bananas: Banana Traceabilty
Maybe it’s because the banana is such a complete food? Maybe because it’s the original convenient and portable meal?
While the root of the banana’s prevalence in the world’s diet can be debated, one thing that isn’t is that bananas are popular.
In fact, according to 2014 global industry report, they are the world’s most popular fruit.
As consumption continues to grow, banana producers are taking note of the potential industry impacts of unsustainable practices and adapting voluntary standards. These standards aim to address key sustainability issues along the global supply chains for bananas and include Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance.
Frequentz’s tracking technology continues to play a key role in enabling supply chain stakeholders to verify compliance with these standards and provide transparency to customers.
Bananas Are Traceable
All loose bananas of PLUS are imported from Colombia and are Fairtrade certified since 2010. Currently, bananas are the most sold fresh food product in the PLUS supermarkets and are one of the most traded and consumed fruits in the world. This bears some negative side effects. The banana supply chains are under pressure because it causes negative impacts like environmental degradation, high water usage, and biodiversity loss. The environmental footprint and therefore the climate impact of the banana is significant. By making this supply chain transparent, it can help measure and monitor the environmental footprint of the individual actors in the banana supply chain. Therefore, PLUS, Fyffes and SIM worked together to take the traceability of the Fairtrade banana supply chain to the next level and make them climate neutral.
The Powerchain solution by SIM provides transparency about the product journey and actors involved through the supply chain while logging different product related information and quality checks. Data is captured and shared in detail through every step of the supply chain by the supply chain partners. In this case, the carbon footprint (CO2) of all individual actors have been calculated in collaboration with the Climate Neutral Group (CGN). Consumers are able to retrieve the details about the journey of their bananas by scanning a QR-code sticker on the banana and entering a farm group code.
CHECK-YOUR-BANANA WEBSITE OF PLUS
The consumer can see the timing and route of the journey of their banana, from which plantation or group of plantation it originates and which quality checks have been performed in the chain. Additionally, in the Powerchain applicable certificates (such as Fairtrade, Global Gap & Rainforest Alliance) are logged and verified for each step and actor in the supply chain. Next to this, the CO2 emissions of each batch of bananas are compensated based upon calculations of the Climate Neutral Group. As a result, the Climate Neutral bananas of PLUS are traceable from farm to the distribution center(DC) of PLUS while detailed product data is logged on the Powerchain and visible for consumers via the PLUS consumer website. The next step for the project partners is to decrease their carbon footprint by finding solutions in their own systems and processes that they can control and therefore start in setting.
QR code for the traceability of pineapple and organic bananas
According to an EFSA study published in June of this year, 53 percent of EU citizens surveyed say the issue of where their food comes from is a relevant purchasing criterion. The origin is therefore more important than costs (51%), food safety (50%) or their taste preference (49%).
PENNY recognized this trend at an early stage and is gradually introducing more extensive product and source information, especially for its own brands. From Monday 19-08-2019, all pineapples will be provided with a QR code. For these, customers can access a special website. There they will find detailed information about the respective plantation as well as its sustainability activities, audits or awards. In September (from 09-09 onwards) the Naturgut organic bananas will also appear with a corresponding QR code.
For example, PENNY customers can read that pineapple supplier Tropicales del Valle of San Carlos, Costa Rica, is a family business. The finca is located in the province of Alajuela, where mainly pineapple, but also sugar cane and coffee is being grown. The plant, which sold around 3.5 million boxes of pineapple last year, employs 364 people, 60 of whom are women. The company is certified Rainforest Alliance, GLOBAL G.A.P and GRASP. In addition, PENNY customers can find out in words and pictures that Tropicales del Valle has voluntarily protected 150,000 square meters of rainforest on the estate. In addition, the website provides general information on the sustainability commitment of PENNY (including REWE Group Central America Fund).
Ecological responsibility in the supply chain
"Our customers should be able to trust us and our products. With the introduction of the QR code we show that we are aware of our social and environmental responsibility in the supply chain. Customers who buy pineapples and bananas from us can do so with confidence and with a clear conscience because we place great value on the selection of our partners. In doing so, we also look at its environmental and social stance," said Stefan Magel, Divisional Board Member for Retail Trade REWE Group and COO PENNY.
BETTER BANANA TRACEABILITY
Ever wondered how the curvy yellow banana reached your fruit basket from the farm? The answer could be just a QR code scan away. Happy Banana, the fruit brand of Desai Fruit Ventures, has started to deploy Farm Trace, a QR Code solution that helps c...
Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/this-qr-code-lets-you-trace-where-your-banana-came-from-893895.html
Case level banana traceability
Happy Banana brand deploys QR code to give details of the farm’s location and ripening chamber
The retailing of the humble banana is set to go hi-tech in some parts of the country soon. By scanning a QR code, one can soon track the journey of the banana from the farm to the consumer’s basket.
Happy Banana, the fruit brand from Desai Fruits Venture Pvt Ltd (DFV), has started deploying the QR code solution FarmTrace on the fruit that will help consumers track the journey of the fruit — with the details and the location of the farm where it was grown and the ripening chamber, where it was ripened and packed before reaching the retail shelves.
Transparency for customers
“FarmTrace helps us to further differentiate our premium bananas from other suppliers and give our consumers full transparency and assurance about buying a healthy and hygienically produced product,” said Marco Klinge, CEO, DFV, a large producer and exporter of bananas based in Navsari, Gujarat. Further, FarmTrace can help producers and farmers realise better price for their produce.
DFV handles about 100,000 tonnes of bananas annually, of which about 70 per cent is exported and the rest sold in domestic market, Klinge told BusinessLine adding that the company was looking to triple its fruit volumes this year.
DFV is a portfolio company of Pioneering Ventures, a food, finance and technology platform based in Switzerland. The FarmTrace solution was developed Lateral Praxis, an agri-tech company acquired by Pioneering Ventures in May this year.
FarmTrace is based on technology architecture that links MIS data already logged by food producers and suppliers, tracks each piece of fruit, vegetable or fresh produce packet based on a unique sticker. Klinge said the QR code solution would also be deployed on other farm produce such as pineapples and rice going forward.
“Consumers in India and across the world are becoming increasingly conscious about the food they consume, and they prefer to know exactly where the product comes from, when it was harvested and how it was produced,” said Pablo Erat, Co-founder of Pioneering Ventures, in a statement.
Suniti Gupta, CEO Pioneering Ventures Tech, said, “FarmTrace is the only solution in India today that enables traceability on an individual fruit level. We are in process of integrating our systems with Blockchain technology now.”
Keeping it simple
“We have also deliberately kept it simple for farmers, supply chain partners and vendors to join in. They can make their food traceable without incurring a huge cost, by just enrolling with us. We provide ample tech support to the small-scale farmers to help enroll them and onboard them on this journey of being able to provide traceability features to their produce.”
So far, over 3,000 farmers are on the map of FarmTrace. The web-based solution aims to enroll around 10,000 farmers in the pilot phase by March 2021.
Recently, INI Farms, another large exporter announced the deployment of QR code traceability feature on its fruit brand Kimaye for products such as pomegranate, arils and coconut. INI Farms had said its bananas will carry the QR code on the fruit from December.
Tracking The Bananas: Banana Traceability: From Kerala To UK – VFPCK
The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council of Kerala (VFPCK) decided to use the GI tag for their product Nendran bananas for export. Adhering to strict quality standards and ensuring transparency in the supply chain required the need for robust traceability solutions. VFPCK approached Bengaluru based TraceX technologies to digitize their complete export journey.
With COVID-19 affecting almost every business around the world, the farming sector was no different. It was directly faced with the challenge of realizing the accurate value for the produced commodities. One such commodity was the Nendran banana, which is predominantly grown in Kerala.
Farmers who had invested in the cultivation of the Nendran Banana were unable to reap their planned profits. This was because, firstly, they were unable to attain export quality certification. Secondly, farmers were unable to trace their produce to the end of the value chain; their visibility on the produce ended when it left their premises, so they were unsure of the true worth of the produce. On the other side, the European demand for banana supplies from Asian countries had dropped drastically because of the shift of the consumer mindset to health and organic products, and the Nendran banana was not certified so. Analyzing the situation, the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council of Kerala [VFPCK] decided to take the necessary steps to market their local banana variety across the European continent.
Since the Nendran Banana is exported from Kerala, the VFPKC decided to use the geographical indicator to popularize the product, and thus increase exports and fetch a better price for its production. According to WIPO, a geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. To simplify, bananas exported from Kerala are quite reputed, and by using a GI, you are certifying that the banana will live up to the expected quality. The exported Nendran Banana produce was primarily targeted at NRIs staying in Europe, with a view to providing them with an opportunity to relish a local favorite even from abroad. Through this initiative, VFPCK wished to help the Indian farmer experience profitable farming by exporting quality produce. They then started the groundwork to initiate the banana consignment export overseas.
However, achieving export quality standards for European markets, especially by banana producers from the unorganized sector of Kerala, is quite challenging. The whole process demanded an organized approach and diligent coordination, beginning from planting up to the post-harvest export process. The pre-harvest activities by farmers like crop planting, pest & disease control, adhering to sustainable agriculture practices, demanded recording-keeping and advisory support from expert teams. After a banana harvest, an intense post-harvest process recording takes place to ensure quality. A processing team follows up at this end. Co-coordinating with all these multiple stake holders and keeping track of each stage wise update was daunting task for VFPCK.
The need for support
Initial setbacks helped VFPCK realize that two things: first, they were required to meet strict standards to be eligible for export; second, end-consumers were apprehensive about the origin and journey of the banana. They quickly understood that these hurdles could only be crossed by deploying digital technologies. This is when they approached the Bangalore-based TraceX Technologies team, to digitize their complete export journey, since TraceX advocated “Traceability on Blockchain”.
The TraceX approach
The biggest challenge was addressed first: end-to end multiple stakeholder connectivity. TraceX easily accommodated this requirement using their solution called “Foodsign”, which involved the farmers, an agro-advisory team, as well as a processing and export team. The tracking of the banana production extended across the value-chain: from the geo-mapped farms, to the crop cultivation and its associated activities; from coordinating between the farmer and field officer, to harvest and transfer of produce to Processing center; everything was tracked in real time. Post-harvest activities like gathering the bananas, cleaning, sorting, grading, hygiene packing and precooling process were recorded on-the-go using the Foodsign application.
Happily ever after
Eventually, TraceX delivered on its promise: all export parameters are now met and the produce is ever-ready to be sailed to Europe.
This entire journey is digitized on a single QR code, which is attached to each crate of bananas exported overseas. This code is made available to the end consumer, thus meeting the requirement of end-to-end transparency across the supply chain.