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Fresh Produce Supply Chain Systems
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Since the hunter gatherer days, people throughout the world have been eating fruit and vegetables. It is believed that in some societies farming of plants and animals began as early as eleven thousand years ago. Much has changed.


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Freshtrack Gateway™ – a fresh way to track fresh produce

20 Feb 2007

In Australia where a very high proportion of the population resides in and around capital cities, most fresh produce is grown on large scale farms then delivered to the consumers via supermarkets in the urban centres.

Growers are faced with many challenges including natural pests and land degradation and each uses fertilisers and pest control of varying types and to varying degrees.

Supermarkets have been setting the rules for growers for decades now, from the quality and appearance of produce, to the type and appearance of the packaging. Consumers are also becoming more demanding with increased interest in organic produce and sustainable farming.

There are also increasing demands for growers to keep accurate and up-to-date records of their chemical use. Whether growing for export markets, local supermarkets or using integrated pest control or growing organics, growers are required to keep track of all the ways their produce is treated.

Reporting and record keeping is challenging for many growers and packers, and Freshtrack software meets this challenge admirably. Freshtrack provides an integrated reporting and traceability system from the paddock to the supermarket for fresh produce.

Freshtrack Gateway™ provides carton labels which includes information about the origin of the fruit. Freshtrack FieldOp™ can schedule growing activities, for example irrigation, spraying and thinning. Inspection results, weather reports including rainfall, and other variables can be fed into the system which uses that information to adjust the treatment schedules; for example irrigation may not be required after rainfall. At any point the grower can override the schedules with the exception of waiting periods required between some chemical applications and harvesting.

All chemicals used on each paddock are fed into the system by PC or in the field using a PDA. When the fruit arrives at the packing shed, FieldOp can share the history of each delivery bin with Freshtrack Gateway and the fruit from each paddock can be tracked through grading and cool storage and each carton is labelled with grower details which can include paddock id. The carton number on the label can be fed back into the system and all reported information about the paddock and the planting is available.

Freshtrack FieldOp™ also helps with budgeting and forecasting. All consumables and activities can be costed and the cost of a harvest from each paddock is simply tracked.

Gateway’s quality assurance module links testing results to the carton and therefore back to the paddock. All data can be retained as long as the standard requires and can be accessed on demand.

Freshtrack software tracks produce from paddock to retail outlet and back and along the way provides growers and packers with the tools to comply with even the most rigorous certification standards.

Whilst this may sound onerous it has become reality in Europe and there is every indication the transparency of a fruit’s history will become reality in Australia within the next few years. Supermarkets are already moving toward improved traceability standards, which are the first steps toward full electronic traceability.

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