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How to trace organic produce across the supply chain

organic produce

Woolworths Group, GS1 Australia and Deakin University’s Food Traceability Laboratory have co-developed a user-friendly how-to guide addressing traceability across the organic produce supply chain. 

The origin of the food we consume has become increasingly important to consumers and industry alike. Significant supply chain interruptions, coupled with extreme flooding in Australia, has resulted in a shortage of fresh produce. This has driven prices up and frustrated shoppers who may not realise why the shelves at the local supermarket are empty, or when to expect the next lettuce delivery. 

“The Australian Guide to Implementing Food Traceability: Organic Produce” was developed to assure Australian organic farmers that their products are handled well and remain in premium condition. 

“Now more than ever food traceability is crucial,” Deakin University Food Traceability Laboratory chair David Downie said. 

“Consumers want to know the origins of produce from farm to fork, why there may be a shortage, if a product is recalled and, with a notable increase in sales of organic produce since the start of the pandemic, it is vitally important that accurate traceability information is available every step of the way.” 

Traceability supports the tremendous effort growers put into their premium certified organic products as they are delivered to consumers in an increasingly complex food supply chain that is now both global and inherently dynamic. Visibility along the supply chain improves the speed and accuracy of food recalls and it’s a cornerstone of actions to curb threats of substitution or contamination in storage or distribution. 

Australia’s fresh produce organics industry contributes approximately $2.6 billion dollars to the Australian economy each year and the market is projected to continue to grow. Australia is also the world’s largest holder of agricultural land under certified organic management with over 23 million hectares of soil now organic. 

“As the Fresh Food people, it is imperative that our customers are able to have trust in our products, and even more so for organic fresh produce,” Woolworths Group head of Industry Solutions Noelene De Villiers said. 

“The pandemic has only increased consumer interest in having greater visibility over where their food originates and how it’s grown.” 

According to Future Traceability for Agricultural Trade principal director Joanna Bunting, traceability doesn’t just concern the origin of the product, but what happens to the product as it moves through the supply chain. 

“Accurate and timely traceability systems show consumers that Australian products are safe and sustainable from paddock to plate, driving our access to premium international markets,” she said. 

Over the last few years, a myriad of societal issues has taken consumption of organic produce beyond the odd speciality grocer to more mainstream supermarkets. With that, a strong desire to ensure that the increased costs involved for organic food is able to be justified all the way along the supply chain. 

“Consumers look for organically produced food because of their concerns around health, the environment, and animal welfare. As a result, they are willing to pay the price premiums certified organic produce can demand,” Australian Organics Ltd CEO Niki Ford said. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic the demand for organic food increased further because consumers perceived them to be healthier, safer and good for their natural immunity.” 

“The Australian Guide to Implementing Food Traceability: Organic Produce” is available to download free from Deakin University’s Implementing Food Traceability website. 

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