Agriculture Victoria is funding an innovative $770,000 traceability pilot project for high-value exports that will be led by Citrus Australia, which represents commercial citrus growers. The funding is part of the Victorian government’s Food to Market program.
The Citrus Australia project will utilize leading tracing technology, isotope testing, cool-chain tracking and orchard mapping to enhance traceability. Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said the aim is to safeguard the industry from fraudulent activity and ensure the integrity of high-end citrus exports is protected.
Australia exports more than $500 million of citrus each year to more than 50 countries.
“By participating in this pilot, we have the opportunity to work through the real-world application of emerging technology on farm and through the supply chain,” Hancock said. “We hope to further progress the integration of traceability into the everyday operations of citrus businesses in the future, whether they be farm-to-customer marketing, proof of origin or tracing a biosecurity outbreak.”
The pilot project comprises three components, one of which will build on a successful traceability project led by Citrus Australia last year. That pilot project traced fruit from Nu Leaf I.P. orchards in Mildura, through the Mildura Fruit Company (MFC) packinghouse, and on to international consumers.
Hancock said the new project would further integrate traceability technology at MFC, utilizing additional automation to reduce human data entry. Unique QR code labels will be added to both bags and cartons of fruit, making them traceable by sales unit.
In addition to protecting Australian export brands through the innovative labeling of boxes and bags, the pilot project will include isotope testing of Australian fruit. “What isotope testing will enable is the ability to differentiate place of origin of Australian citrus fruit using science to prove provenance down to the individual farm and region,” Hancock said.
The third component of the project is the further development of a national online crop mapping platform, which will improve both the accuracy of Citrus Australia’s national crop figures and traceability. Citrus Australia will work with the University of New England to enhance the citrus component of the Australian Tree Crop Map Dashboard.
Source: Citrus Australia
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