The SecQuAL project is a ground-breaking innovation trial which aims to improve efficiency in supply chains and reduce food waste. It is now seeking UK retailers to participate in tests and trials to help improve food traceability.
Retailers have an important role to play in ensuring food waste is minimised. Global food-sharing technology organisation, OLIO, recently reported that almost 1.3bn tonnes of food – which could feed the population of Italy for a lifetime – is spoiled in transit or thrown away by consumers around the world each year. The same report suggested that over one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste, while 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is not eaten.
Now, retailers are being called upon to join the SecQuAL (Secure Quality Assured Logstics for Digital Food Ecosystem) project to tackle food waste. Led by supply chain assurance specialists LRQA, SecQuAL brings together a consortium of eleven organisations aiming to develop smart tags and labels, placing technology at the fore in the farm-to-fork ecosystem to help create a meat traceability system. Upon completion, the project will help reduce waste, track food, leverage real-time data for an efficient decision-making process, and enhance customer trust in food they procure.
Participating retailers will be able to take advantage of a number of benefits presented by the food tracking solution, including supply chain transparency to customers that will enable greater brand loyalty. Having the ability to track carbon footprint through the SecQuAL project is another key benefit for retailers, allowing them to play a critical role towards achieving the UK’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050.
A new standard
With food waste prevalent on a global scale, the ability to identify sources of this growing issue thanks to digital surveillance could lead to a new standard for accountability. Overhauling the food supply chain from farm to fork, the project will use pork as the example product to provide insight and assurance to enable better decision making. It will do this by addressing inefficient paper practices, allowing remote regulatory oversight of processes.
A recent report by the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicates that consumers are open to changing their habits to reduce food waste. In a series of surveys undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic, the report found that nearly 80% of respondents undertook new food management behaviour, such as using leftovers and planning meals ahead of shopping.
Now, SecQuAL is set to revolutionise the efficiencies of the global food supply chain and we have made excellent progress as we look at how to increase the shelf life of food products. The global food waste crisis is only increasing, which means current practices can be simplified to ensure the entire food ecosystem works together to improve future performance.
So far, the SecQuAL project has developed work packages, plans and designs for the project system, as well as support with risk management. The next stage is Proof Of Concept, followed by implementation stages, turning theory into a practical commercial proposition. Hopefully, the results will provide an industry-leading solution.
The SecQuAL project started in 2021, after being awarded funding by the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge at UK Research and Innovation. Expected to complete by March 2023, the consortium of eleven organisations consists of LRQA, IBM, PragmatIC Semiconductor Ltd, RSK ADAS, Advanced Material Development, BlakBear, Centre for Process Innovation Limited, Consus Fresh Solutions, Cranswick PLC, CCL design and Food Standards Agency.