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More than a dozen colleges and companies have joined a consortium under the guidance of the University of Wolverhampton, to pilot RFID technology as it tracks the movements of fish, wine, pork and cheese through production and on to retailers.
A European project overseen by the University of Wolverhampton and a consortium of universities, technical institutes and commercial entities is determining how radio frequency identification technology can benefit the perishable-goods supply chain. The project, known as Farm to Fork (F2F), was launched last year, with half of its funding provided by the European Commission’s ICT Policy Support Program—aimed at stimulating innovation and competitiveness—which includes a half-dozen pilots throughout Europe to track pork, fish, wine and cheese through the production process and on to stores.
The project’s objective is to determine how well RFID can be used to improve supply chain visibility, provide authentication of food’s origin, reduce the amount of waste due to spoilage or other supply chain problems (by tracking environmental conditions), and increase the efficiency of the supply chain itself. The pilots, which all employ EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID tags (including Confidex’s Halo tag; UPM RFID’s ShortDipole, DogBone, Web and Hammer models; and Alien Technology’s Squiggle tag) and readers, are designed to determine whether the benefits gained from the RFID data will provide a return on investment for users. In August of this year, the project’s participants began deploying the RFID technology, which will remain operational until August 2012. At that time, the participants and the university will review the results, calculate the ways in which RFID technology may have improved the supply chain, and publish their findings on the Farm to Fork Web site.