When the product reaches shops, consumers can scan the code with a smartphone, tablet or in-store scanner and the system generates a web page in real time, which gives detailed information such as where it originated from, where it was processed, packed and stored, how it was transported and at what temperature and how many miles its travelled.
During the two-and-a-half-year project the system was successfully tested with a range of producers of meat, dairy, fish and wine products in countries including the UK, Spain, Italy and Slovenia. Professor Bob Newman, a computer scientist from the University’s School of Technology, led the research team in the project. He explained: “The food industry is not currently working in a joined up way – there are plenty of processes and procedures but no coherent system. The Farm to Fork project bridges the gap between the supplier and retailers and the consumer. “
It ensures proof of origin, as the system captures a record of the production history, which can be used if product tracing is ever required. There are advantages for the food and drink sector as it provides a more efficient tracking model, for example by providing authentication of the origin of food.
“We firmly believe this can drive the next revolution in food –it can change consumer habits and change the food industry.
“We also believe it provides a solution to the current problem identified by the horsemeat scandal but it depends on suppliers and retailers getting on board. We are working to get this to be a standardised approach for suppliers as it has magnificent potential.
“There is a hunger from consumers for this sort of information on what they buy. In the UK we have become somewhat alienated from our food and settled for an industrialised culture of food production. More and more people want to know where their food comes from and what processes it has been through.
“Most quality producers want to be able to tell consumers the story of where their food came from as it builds trust and confidence.” The researchers worked with meat and cheese suppliers in UK, fish suppliers in Spain and Slovenia, and cheese and wine suppliers in Italy and Spain.
The Farm to Fork project has now come to a successful conclusion and is ready for commercialisation. Currently the project team are working with international standards organisations to ensure that it can cover foods, wherever their point of origin.
The project was funded by the European Commission’s Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
For more information on the Farm 2 Fork Project, visit the website or to see a demonstration of the system, please visit the Food Traceability demonstrator within this site.
Notes: Professor Bob Newman is available for interview and visual examples of the technology in use can be provided.
For more information please contact Vickie Warren in the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736.
Date Issued: Wednesday, 27 February 2013