Whole and fresh cut rockmelons grown by Dawson Melon fields in the Sunraysia region of Victoria have been tracked from paddock to plate in what is being heralded as an Australian first.
Brad Dawson of Dawson Melon Co in Red Cliffs Victoria, collaborated with FreshChain Systems, the New South Wales department of primary industries as well as specialty fresh food retailers Harris Farm Markets and Market Place Fresh, to track the fruit.
The initiative is part of the federal government grants programme, which encourages greater adoption of traceability in fresh food.
Successful lead grant applicant and FreshChain director, Greg Calvert, congratulated Dawson for his vision and appetite to provide his customers and consumers greater confidence in both the safety and quality of his rockmelons.
Dawson recognised the value of this initiative, stating: “We have seen the consequences of what happens when issues cannot be contained quickly and efficiently.
“We must, as a fresh food community, look beyond our individual operations and contribute to future proofing the entire horticulture industry and I believe that delivering end to end traceability is a significant step in the right direction.”
Market Place Fresh managing director Stephen Fanous said he was pleased to support the project and provide in store support.
“Our goal is to lead in providing consumers with the best and safest produce available but also support our grower network to ensure they remain viable and sustainable,” explained Fanous.
“A good portion of our sales are on cut products so it is incumbent on retailers to help close the loop or we lose visibility on a major portion of product that will be purchased. This is a great initiative and one that has been a long time coming”
Dawson said the in-store support received from Market Place Fresh and Harris Farm Markets was an important aspect of this project’s success.
“Put simply, without their support this can’t be done,” said Dawson. “They are leading the way and giving their customers the best experience possible, knowing their food is safe, fresh and the farming journey shared. It’s really exciting and I am grateful.”
Beyond protecting customers, Dawson said he was keen to understand how he could achieve a return on investment with the system.
“End to end traceability as part of providing food safety is great, but I was also interested in how FreshChain could help build my brand, connect me with my consumers and allow me to educate around the benefits and use of rockmelons.
“I am really proud of the product we put out there and I wanted a way to differentiate who we are and what we do. The system provides me with an opportunity to link more data points through greater digitisation, create more intimate connections with current and new customers; importantly learn more about them and what they want to know more about, whether it be the farm, the people, the nutritional value, new recipes or our sustainability practises.”
Calvert added that while support from growers and retailers is a vital aspect to the early success of the project, he recognised it will take time to explain the features, adoption method and benefits to gain full support from the fresh food community.
“We know that every operation is different, has its own nuances and complexities and so we have built a system that is adaptable, irrespective of your commodity, current size or level of digitisation,” noted Calvert.
“Our encrypted, unique and serialised QR codes are GS1 Digital Link ready, and this is the next step to removing barcode duplication - a single 2D QR code for consumers to engage and retailers to scan at the point of sale.
“We welcome all fresh food retailers to join us on this journey to enhance traceability and connect consumers with farmers in a new way.
“To future proof our domestic fresh food source and enhance Australia’s global reputation as a provider of safe and fresh quality produce, we owe it to one another to get involved,” concluded Calvert.