Food Supply Chain and Traceability

The physical digital “phygital” connection

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Lloyd's Register is looking for solutions that relate to the connection between physical food objects and digital records – so-called ‘phygital’ solutions.

Summary

Background

Global food supply chains are increasingly complex, fragmented and involve a number of different stakeholders leading to a number of safety and quality risks.  The lack of visibility across the complex food supply chains leads to issues such as food-borne illnesses (e.g. E. coli, listeria and salmonella), fraud, food loss and reduced safety. 

Traceability provides a foundation to address many of these issues and increase safety of food products. Improved traceability has the potential to help provide the necessary level of transparency across different stakeholders and improve the discoverability/prevention of the root causes of safety and quality issues.

By utilising technology to increase transparency of food supply chains, we can positively impact food systems and:

  1. Meet consumer demand for food production transparency;
  2. Further enhance the ability to identify, respond to and even prevent food safety issues;
  3. Support supply-chain optimisation and reduce food loss;
  4. Validate sourcing claims to support sustainability goals.

Technology enabled end to end traceability will reduce the physical-digital divide by providing holistic data collection, availability and analysis across the supply chain. The development and adoption of digital technologies and biotechnologies will enable easy sharing of information across all stakeholders and significantly improve the safety and transparency of food supply chains.

Challenge

This innovation challenge is therefore looking for solutions that relate to the connection between physical food objects and digital records – so-called ‘phygital’ solutions.

These solutions can improve supply-chain visibility to deliver food production transparency to consumers, reduce fraud, improve food safety, increase supply-chain efficiency and reduce food loss.

Technology:

Applicants should have a solution with one or more of the following components of a “phygital” traceability system: 

  • Stable Isotopes: Stable isotope analysis to verify the geographical origins of food products; environmental conditions at the food’s point of origin; agricultural and feeding practices used during production.
  • Microbiome Analysis: High-throughput sequencing technologies, curated and annotated reference databases of whole genome sequences, bacterial strain banks, and novel informatics techniques coupled to a scalable computing platform to encompass systematic authentication of the microbiome and its variations up and down the supply chain.
  • DNA-based tracing: Molecular-based system, which can identify biological specimens, and is used for the identification of both raw materials and processed food (e.g. DNA barcoding)
  • Whole genome sequencing (WGS) or Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS): Technology to map the genetic sequence of pathogens and other organisms with such precision that they can distinguish between different strains of a bacterium and even slight variations by geography within the same strain.

Of interest, but only if they can lead to the connection between physical food objects and digital records:

  • IoT: Collect comprehensive data about food products along the supply chain. Key technology for traceability includes sensors, satellites which facilitate identification and tracking, health monitors or condition tracking
  • Food Sensing and ML: Comprehensive testing to ensure food is safe and not subject to fraud. Able to identify information related to the structure of a product upload information to the cloud and analyze it through machine learning and imaging-processing algorithms.
  • Blockchain: To potentially more efficiently track, aggregate and share supply chain data linking the physical and digital world. Blockchain is: first, distributed; second, immutable; and third, requires a specific “key” to view specific information or add to the ledger.
  • Smart packaging: Materials and articles that monitor the condition of packaged food or the environment surrounding the food. With the aim to communicate and transmit the information to the consumers. This can be information about the condition of a package and its contents, time of manufacture or storage conditions etc.

Generic blockchain, big data and IoT solutions that do not improve the “phygital” element are out of scope and would not be taken into consideration.

What’s in it for you?

Lloyd's Register Foundation is a charity helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research. The Foundation is supported by the work of Lloyd's Register (LR), one of the world's leading providers of professional services of engineering and technology.

LR serves over 33,000 clients in the food sector alone - from the world's best-known brands to the smallest of suppliers and will work with the successful company to determine the most appropriate trial.

If you have or are developing solutions, or if you have expertise in the above, please click "Apply" to submit your solution/expertise to the Network.

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