emands for traceability in food supply chains have increased significantly in recent years. This applies to all food products, whether fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy or other food stuffs. There are number of reasons for this increasing attention to traceability, but the issue was particularly highlighted during the horsemeat scandal that shook Europe in 2013.
Traceability is mandatory in food supply chains to ensure food safety, but a big focus today is on how to use traceability as well to fight food fraud, which is of growing concerns. Another advantage of having a good traceability within food chains is to identify and monitor opportunities for improvements within the chains, weather on how to increase quality and safety or reduce costs.
When it comes to seafood traceability there are also some additional benefits that traceability provides. Pirate fisheries (IUU) are a major problem within the global seafood sector and one of the most efficient ways of tackling the problem is market-based i.e. those who cannot proof where their fish is coming from with a credible traceability chain cannot sell their products in high paying markets. Proof of origin is also of particular importance for suppliers that have premium products to sell, not to mention if they also have a “nice story to tell” with it, like Icelandic suppliers do.
Matís is currently working on a number of projects where traceability is of significant importance. Amongst these are the WhiteFish, WhiteFishMall, FoodIntegrity and MarginManager.
The aim of the WhiteFish project is to develop a methodology for suppliers to perform a batch based calculation of sustainability impact of their cod and haddock products. The outcome of the project will be a standard that suppliers can use to estimate environmental-, social- and economic sustainability of their products. By being able to calculate sustainability impact on a batch level, the producers will be able to improve the sustainability profile of their products and demonstrate to their customers that they are taking actions to be as responsible as possible when it comes to sustainability. The WhiteFish project is highly dependent on traceability as all calculations and demonstration to customers depend on having an active traceability within the chains.
The WhiteFishMall project focuses on identifying consumer needs when it comes to purchasing cod and haddock products. What are the favourable characteristics that consumers are interested in and how can we get people to buy more seafood; particularly cod and haddock from the N-Atlantic? The project has looked at the UK as a test market and has initiated focus groups, consumer surveys and interviewed a large number of stakeholders within different links of the value chains. The results from these show that UK consumers want more information on the fish that they are buying (or considering to buy). They don’t particularly want some general information, but rather hard facts on the fish they have in their hands i.e. where does it come from, where and when was it caught, is it coming from a sustainable stock, was it caught in a sustainable manner, is it healthy to eat, does it have nutritional benefits to eat it etc. To meet these demands the WhiteFish project has developed a demo version of an information sharing interface that brings together and presents to the potential customers interesting facts about the fish in their hands. All the consumer needs is to scan a QR-code with their smart phone or tablet and they are presented with information that should answer all of their questions regarding the product.
The Food Integrity project is a large European project that started in beginning of 2014 that aims to develop methods and tools to battle food fraud in Europe. Part of the work is specially aimed at Seafood products were fraud is a considerable problem. Matís is a key participant in that work, where it aims at applying traceability and analytical methods to detect fraud. More information on the Food Integrity project can be found here.
The aim of the MarginManager project is to develop a software that assists captains of fishing vessels, fleet managers and other decision makers in seafood production chains to take informed decisions by allowing them to monitor how different factors effects their fishing and production operation. The software allows them for example to take informed decisions on where to fish, what to target, what to produce etc. The project is led by TrackWell which Matís has worked in close collaboration with on numerous traceability projects throughout the years.
For more information please contact Jónas R. Viðarsson at Matís.