FROM THE BLUE MOUNTAINS TO THE HOT BURGER A-CRISPY TRAIL

The traceability journey of the Iceberg lettuce from the cool mountains of Nilgiris to the hot burger joint with TraceX’s FOODSIGN solution
food traceability, food supply chain, blockchain traceability, agriculture traceability software
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Every time you bite into your spicy burger at the McDonald’s, what is it that tickles your buds? 

Yes, it’s the Iceberg Lettuce shred to a measured length and width to give the right crunch to your burger. 

Do you know that this Iceberg lettuce has travelled all the way from our own Blue Mountains to reach McDonald’s? 

Green Earth Fresh Produce (GEFP) in the Nilgiris is a contract farming company that directly partners with small hold farmers in the production of Iceberg lettuce.  

Have you wondered why the Iceberg lettuce got the ‘Iceberg’ tag? 

1In the 1920’s, in America, ice was piled up on cartons carrying lettuce to keep it chilled, crisp and fresh. As the train cars arrived packed with ice, the kids would shout ‘Icebergs are coming!’ “Iceberg Lettuce”, the name got stuck. 

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of cuisines around the world. The exotic veggie greens provide fresh and nutritious food to consumers all over the world. The vegetable sector contributes to biodiversity, environmental sustainability and improvement of livelihood of farmers all along the value chain. 

Contract farming helps farmers to address their problems related to market access by improving their participation in the high value vegetable sector.

Green Earth is one of the oldest companies in Nilgiris involved in Contract farming. The farmers here grow all kinds of quality exotic vegetables. Lettuce, Red cabbage and Celery are a few of them.

 

The Crunchy Challenges 

Magesh Kumar, Cofounder and Director of GEFP says, “In recent years food safety is becoming paramount and very important. And the regulations and requirements of customers are becoming tighter and more stringent as days go by.” 

Green Earth is a major supplier of Iceberg lettuce to M/s. Vista process foods(P) Ltd who are in turn the empaneled suppliers for the consumer giants McDonald’s and KFC. This will mean Green Earth has to get a foothold on a number of challenges that will come up in their lettuce journey. 

What could they be? 

  • Vegetables are highly perishable products which can cause food wastage at every step in the value chain leading to losses. There is also a risk of foodborne illness linked to pathogen contamination as these vegetables are consumed raw or uncooked. Food safety is very critical. The quality and shelf life of the products is of paramount importance. 
  • Contract farming model calls for a controlled environment and high-quality standards. Farmer awareness on the produce, the supply chain risks, the market reach and guaranteed income are some of the challenges. 
  • The pre-harvest, post-harvest, storage and transportation stages are dependent on innumerable factors which will need efficient production planning. 
  • Monitoring and recording of data at all stages needs to get translated from the physical level to digital level to validate the claims. 
  • Training and education to all the stakeholders in the supply chain is required to ensure proper collaboration. 
  • Owing to the premium clientele, there is a necessity for compliance and strict adherence to standards.

Crispy Solutions saves the day 

A one stop Traceability solution is the answer. Traceability is a must in the fresh produce sector to mitigate and manage risks associated with food safety and product recalls.  

Traceability solutions along with digital technology will ensure food safety and quality and streamline all the processes in the supply chain. Blockchain technology can keep all the records and events generated, in a distributed, immutable ledger and help in monitoring the various processes in real-time. The interoperable technology platform can store all the sources of information and provide a single source of truth. This can provide a detailed audit trail. 

Green Earth connects with TraceX technologies to start their traceability journey. 

Tracking and Tracing the Iceberg Lettuce on the FOODSIGN platform 

Pre harvest Management 

The pre-harvest journey starts from the farmers receiving the saplings from the nurseries. The farmers get on boarded to our system with the necessary inputs. The farmlands are geo mapped. The crop planning and the agronomy advisory are accomplished with the farmer with our easy-to-use multilingual android application. The package of practices is configured and real-time monitoring of the various farm activities helps in generating alerts to the farmers or field officers via SMS alerts. This helps to conform to standards and detect deviations from practices followed. The harvest dashboard helps in tracking harvest progress. 

Post-Harvest Management 

Production planning is carried out and post -harvest processes are configured. Post-harvest management seeks to manage and maintain the quality of the produce after harvest. Fresh produce must be harvested at appropriate stage of maturity and they need to be sorted for any decay or contamination. The produce needs to be fit for package and transportation. Tracking activities on real-time on this traceability platform should keep these processes in check and the farmer is kept informed through a generated receipt. 

Traceability with Blockchain 

The harvested lettuce heads get loaded to crates and heads to the warehouse. Here the produce is sorted and graded according to the quality standards. The best of the produce is selected, weighed and packed into the crates. Goods Receipt Note (GRN) is generated. The QR code is generated for each crate. Traceability aggregated across both pre-harvest and post-harvest is displayed via a simple QR code. Some of the crates are sent for precooling and loaded to refrigerated trucks. The product finally reaches the end customer, Vista foods. 

Spicy takeaways for Green Earth 

  • The technology platform helps Green Earth to streamline their supply chain with farm management, crop management, production planning, processing and distribution and create a digital footprint for their product. 
  • The traceability solution enables easy and transparent verification of claims assuring a credible product. Adherence to standards would give them a competitive edge while dealing with clients. 
  • Comprehensive traceability via the QR code generated on the lettuce crates reassures the consumer of the safety of food and hence builds trust. 
  • At the farm level, activities are streamlined for both the farmer and field officers along with timely alerts assuring them maximum returns. 
  • The Green Earth cofounders are happy to take informed decisions on their business with the data analytics and dashboards which allows them to track the various KPIs, crop insights and market prices.

Win-Win for Green Earth and TraceX 

2Ajith Pai, Founder and CEO, Green Earth Fresh Produce, says, “TraceX has been critical in helping us to accomplish comprehensive traceability across our supply chain and effectively monitor the inputs and practices in our farms which helps us in ensuring adherence to good agricultural practices that are so important in the minds of our consumers.” 

Good Agriculture practices go a long way to ensure safe and healthy food to all. Since most of the exotic vegetables are used for culinary purpose, a comprehensive traceability across the supply chain helps to adhere to food safety standards. Blockchain technology ensures this farm to fork traceability and also nurtures a sound platform among stakeholders to deliver a highly credible product. 

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