Lincolnshire fresh produce network stresses “strong” support for government’s border Targeting Operating Model, saying it will deliver supply chain resilience and faster border crossings with fewer checks

The fresh produce network in Lincolnshire (ukFPN) has welcomed government proposals for new UK border controls and emphasised the trade benefits of the BlueRing software developed by its members.

The recently published draft border Targeting Operating Model (TOM) sets out the Government’s plan for its 2025 UK Border Strategy, which aims to digitise cross-border trade.

The ukFPN – a network of the fresh produce and flower supply chain, supported by the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce – stressed its “strong” support for TOM, saying it will deliver “higher supply chain resilience and certainty” and faster border crossings with fewer checks.

The Electronic Trade Documents (ETD) Bill will be the first major piece of legislation to be introduced that reflects on the UK’s legal status of trade documents since 1882.

ETDs are expected to significantly speed up payments for traders, reducing payment times from weeks to hours. And a company called Contained Technologies is working with the ETD provider Enigio to provide this service through its BlueRing digital platform for cross-border trade.

Having passed three readings in the House of Lords, the Bill has progressed to the House of Commons and an announcement is expected on its possible introduction in June.

Contained Technologies and melon supplier Melon&Co, a member of the ukFPN, attended meetings at the House of Lords to demonstrate the benefits, cost savings and significant CO2 reductions that will be achieved by the legislation.

The ukFPN will hold a major industry conference in June with key partners and speakers to provide detailed information and discussion on the 2025 UK Border Strategy, the Target Operating Model, and BlueRing, which is designed to reduce import costs and integrate cross-border data flows.

The ukFPH described the BlueRing platform as a “low-cost, low-impact, high-value method of integrating the data flows of commercial partners (originators, suppliers and shippers) whilst meeting the requirements of both government and financial institutions”.

“This, in turn, creates a clear path for delivering lower end-to-end costs for trade, process improvement, and adherence to the Government’s Targeting Operating Model (TOM) proposal,” the group added.

The ukFPN has been actively working with members since 2020 to develop the Trusted Bytes project in collaboration with the University of Lincoln. The project is supported by Innovate UK.

A consortium was established of ukFPN members Melon&Co, FreshLinc, Worldwide Fruit and Davis Worldwide, along with organisations including BSI, Exelerate, Satellite Applications Catapult and others.

The project was designed to create one of the UK’s first industrial ‘data trust’ frameworks, tackling three primary challenges: governance of data sharing across supply chains; development of API standards for permissioned data access; and compliant integration with HMRC for customs clearance.

Melon&Co acted as the lead organisation in the project, providing import documentation and manifested inventory data through Contained Technologies’ BlueRing digital platform.

In addition, telemetry and product conditioning data was captured through Octosense, hardware that uses a combination of sensors to monitor a load’s location and speed of travel, as well as CO2, light, humidity and temperature levels. These are displayed on the BlueRing dashboard.

Working with FreshLinc and the University of Lincoln, the project has helped fresh produce businesses to achieve full visibility in imports documentation and drive best practice, according to the ukFPN.

As part of the project, Melon&Co has provided customs clearance declarations in HMRC’s CDS Trader Dress Rehearsal since August 2022.

The Ecosystem of Trust (EOT) pilot led by the Cabinet Office gave Contained Technologies the platform to showcase its capabilities, sharing data between a supplier, originator, shipper and more than 150 government personnel in real time. According to the ukFPN, BlueRing was the first to achieve this.

Working in conjunction with Contained Technologies, Melon&Co has shared real-time data derived from both its South American and European supply chains simultaneously with various government departments via the BlueRing platform.