FreshChain strawberry

The Australian government has announced further investment in an advanced blockchain traceability system that will help protect the country’s clean, green and safe food image - and boost export opportunities for farmers.

Agriculture, drought and emergency management minister David Littleproud said North Sydney-based FreshChain Systems will use A$195,000 in Traceability Grants Programme funding to digitise end-to-end traceability in horticulture across Australia.

“FreshChain's end-to-end traceability system has broad applications across all food, fibre and agricultural products for authentication, provenance, food safety and consumer engagement,” said Littleproud.

“This system ensures food safety, biosecurity and traceability will benefit all participants in the supply chain.

“It supports the National Traceability Framework and protects the Australian brand in export markets by preventing food fraud, reducing food waste and maintaining consumer confidence,” he noted. “It’s important during these challenging times have a resilient fresh food supply system.”

Littleproud highlighted innovations like FreshChain would help the industry become more transparent, allowing domestic and international consumers gain a real time insight of the origins and safety of agricultural products.

FreshChain director, Greg Calvert, said its goal is to help build a resilient fresh food supply chain where systems speak the same language to enhance Australia’s reputation as a supplier of fresh and safe food.

One of Queensland's largest melon producers, Marto Farms, has been working with FreshChain since late last year.

The FreshChain Systems’ project is one of 16 to share in A$4m of funding under the first round of the Australian government’s Traceability Grants Programme.

Member for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman, said FreshChain Systems will pilot its blockchain-enabled technology across high-risk horticultural products like melons, berries and leafy greens from field to fork.

“In collaboration with industry partners, the project will demonstrate the benefits of technology, ease of integration and adoption across the supply chain through to export markets,” said Zimmerman.

“They will develop a data-sharing portal for registered supply chain participants including government agencies for rapid response and targeted product recall during food safety emergencies.

“Covid-19 has significantly heightened consumer awareness about where our food comes from so end-to-end assurance systems like this will be even more important,” added Zimmerman.

The A$7m programme will run over a minimum of two rounds until June 2023.