Ron Volpe

Ron Volpe

In late September (2020), Danish track and trace software company Persequor announced it had joined GS1 Australia as a strategic alliance partner to help drive its growth in the Australian market.

The partnership will make Persequor’s technology available to a wide range of Australian industries, including fresh produce. This includes Persequor’s flagship white label software programme, Saga, which enables the creation of a ‘digital twin’ of the physical flow of any product, at any level of granularity, within a supply chain.

In this exclusive interview with Produce Plus, Persequor’s senior vice-president of international markets, Ron Volpe, discusses the increasingly important role traceability is playing in Australian supply chains, along with the benefits the new partnership will have for the country’s fresh produce suppliers.

Why is it important for Australian fresh produce companies to start thinking about the way they manage traceability?

Ron Volpe: Traceability for the purpose of ensuring food safety has always been a key focus for food companies globally, and Australia is no exception. With that said, Covid-19 has raised the bar significantly, with consumers, companies, and governments demanding more standardisation and granularity when it comes to how food is tracked and traced.

At the government level we are also seeing a unilateral increase in regulatory action aimed at harmonising what is tracked, at what level it is tracked, and how it is reported.

Beyond food safety – food waste, food provenance, the environment, social issues and overall operational excellence are key areas that are advantaged by traceability.

How will the partnership between Persequor and GS1 Australia improve traceability?

RV: Persequor’s flagship product Saga is product agnostic and inherently extensible/customisable. The only limitation that exists when creating this digital twin relates to the number of tracking events that a company is capable of creating as part of its role in the supply chain. Barcode readers and IoT devices are good examples of points in a supply chain where a digital signal is created and can be forwarded to Persequor’s solution.

Stepping back for a moment, supply chains today consist of non-linear global networks of actors; growers, distributors, transporters, importers, retailers and so on. Persequor’s Saga Mesh product takes our capability one step further by automatically sharing the captured digital signals across multiple actors in a supply chain, enabling an integrated and actionable digital twin that trading partners are able to collaborate around.

Our products therefore assist traceability as they provide an ability to store, analyse and share the signals and data points to ultimately tell the story of the product through every step in the supply chain.

The reason why partnering with GS1, not just in Australia but across the globe, is so critical for us is related to the structure and common language that they deliver. It is GS1’s framework that makes this type of technological advancement possible.

Saga is an EPCIS-based (electronic product code information service) solution, so we’re fully compliant with GS1’s parameters and data sets, easing the establishment of end-to-end tracking and tracing.

Can you tell us about Persequor’s history of developing and implementing track and trace software. How robust are your systems?

RV: Based in Copenhagen, Persequor was spun out from FractureCode, a leading manufacturer-centric systems integrator and solutions provider that specialises in the field of supply chain track and trace.

The genesis of this was that as the software was developed to support the very granular track and trace requirements of the EU tobacco industry, to address counterfeit products, it became clear that tobacco companies were utilising the solution for many other opportunities in ways that could be applicable to other industries.

While Persequor handles 50 per cent of the serialised (retail sell unit level traceability from manufacture plant to consumer) tobacco track and trace business in the EU as part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), we view industries such as food as where we will see some of the most significant areas of growth. Our traceability solutions are built for and used in businesses with the most granular requirements, which when combined with our significant scalability and extensibility, allows us to accommodate any traceability requirement facing industry today.

As a whole, Persequor's robust and highly scalable software solutions are well proven in regulated industries, and it is well suited for multiple industry verticals, including food and beverages, farm to fork, manufacturing, medical devices and much more.

How is technology of this sophistication applicable to the fresh produce industry?

RV: When it comes to software, capturing a digitally generated critical tracking event (CTE) for a piece of fruit is not materially different from capturing it for any other product, but it takes more than software. We look forward to working collaboratively with other complementary providers, for example RFID providers and labelling companies.

In addition, we are speaking with companies digitally creating CTE’s in innovative environments. One example would be Tie-Up Farming, a software solution for horticultural businesses that oversees farm operations.

Another point to make is that we will be looking to partner with GS1-compliant ‘hardware’ solutions in the market to help companies, for instance fresh produce companies, add the appropriate level of digital signal robustness to address the business cases they are working to solve.

Our partnership with GS1 Australia is partly about going out and making our products available to the market but it’s also about giving retailers the tools they need to meet their customers’ demands.