RFID first for fresh food

One of Australia's largest wholesalers of fruit and vegetables, Moraitis Fresh, has just completed the implementation of an RFID track and trace system.

The company is using RFID tags on tomato trays and Magellan tunnel readers over conveyer belts at its grading and packing operations in NSW and Victoria.

The tags, on about four tonnes of tomatoes that leave the company each day, provide data on origin, packing date, type, quality and size.

Moraitis Fresh is using the system, from IBM, to increase supply chain efficiencies by monitoring key metrics such as the exact number of trays received from each grower and waste per batch.

The wholesaler wanted full integration of the system with its business operations, and Moraitis CIO Con Colovos said it is aims to get competitive advantage by improving its distribution system and information sharing with growers and supermarket retailers.

Colovos said fresh produce is increasingly a differentiator for Australia's supermarket retailers.

"Our use of RFID is a first for the fresh produce sector. Through the integration of the technology and the transformation of our business, we will achieve operational savings through reduced wastage, and lower inventory and handling costs," he said.

"From a quality perspective it will further enhance the traceability of the produce."

John LaVacca, IBM consulting services supply chain partner, said global mandates set by retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco have helped demonstrate the benefits of RFID and lower the costs of chips and readers.

"As a result, Australian companies can capitalize on these lower costs to implement solutions that weren't previously viable," he said.

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