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The challenge

Protecting brand Australia, safeguarding food safety, and fighting food fraud

The soil a crop was grown in can provide unique data points to validate its origin.

The international market value of Australian food relies on trust of its high safety and quality standards. In addition to being able to match production practices on-farm with claims that can be marketed, it is also important to be able to match claims and physical products throughout the supply chain. Downstream supply chain players, whether brands or consumers, want to have confidence that the claims they are paying premiums for are attributable to the specific products they purchase. Without access to verifiable provenance data, the realisation of the value to the Australian agricultural industry will be limited.

Therefore consumers, suppliers and regulators all require transparent and accurate information that can verify the origin of a product, how it was made, and its quality. Current methods to verify food provenance are expensive and limited to bespoke methods, limiting scale and adoption.

Our response

Soils provide universal data points to verify food provenance

Spatial and temporal variations of the environment uniquely impact the attributes of the soil food is grown in, as well as the water it utilises. Making use of regionally distinctive landscape scale provides an opportunity to match the soil variability with the region's food crops, allowing us to identify the origin of food and how it was produced.

Our work is creating predictive modelling of the significant novel signatures, and developing new, field-deployable sensors for on-the-spot detection of these characteristics.

We are integrating environmental data sets such as the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia to both forecast and verify the geographic regions of origin. We are building on our soil sensing expertise to develop new tools that quantify the soil and plant characteristics for specific regions. As a part of the Trusted Agrifood Exports Mission, we are also working with a variety of stakeholders to across government and industry to provide scalable and affordable solutions.

The results

Affordable, scalable and accurate food provenance

Rather than just creating an additional label, we are building a system which uses the product itself to connect siloed and disparate data. This allows the provenance attributes to be independently identified, quantified, verified, and ultimately trusted by anyone. Ultimately, we need to make it easy for farms to link application maps, soil type, water, and harvest quality in real-time and attach the data to the product as it leaves the farm.

Transforming supply chains from discrete and incompatible structures to transparent and integrated systems can increase the value of our agricultural food products throughout the supply chain. Widescale adoption will require an affordable and accurate solution that is scalable across the world and in multiple industries to maximise impact.

A successful result would improve the financial return and monetise the competitive advantage of Australian agricultural products, domestically and globally.

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