Supply chain is the buzz phrase filling daily news headlines related to empty supermarket shelves and this year’s hottest toys being in short supply. Specifically, one longer-term issue is the traceability of products—especially food and other perishables—as consumers become increasingly conscious of their health and the environment.
Companies such as Stockholm-based TrusTrace are among those who are applying a combination of technologies to empower suppliers and consumers in the flow of information from field or processing plant to table. To further its growth in this space, the company recently received a $6 million investment from Industrifonden and Fairpoint Capital. The funds will be used for product development, global expansion, and building out the company’s management team.
“TrusTrace enables product-level traceability and supply chain transparency to drive better, more sustainably-conscious and socially responsible sourcing decisions,” said Shameek Ghosh, CEO, and Co-Founder of TrusTrace said in an interview with The Spoon. “With this latest funding round, we will continue leveraging cutting-edge technology and the best minds in the industry to achieve positive, restorative change for people and the planet.”
Consumer interest in the details about the origins of their various foods is becoming more than just a nice-to-have. According to research by ADM, the trend had been growing for several years with the pandemic, and it’s the associated concerns about health and safety, acting as a catalyst for a greater understanding of what is in everything from farm-fresh tomatoes to canned string beans. Global supplier ADM discovered 58% of global consumers would be more concerned with locality claims because of COVID-19. In addition, ADM reports that 38% of global consumers will back their interest in sustainability with their wallets and pay more for verified products.
Among the details of sustainability, tracing include place of origin, ingredients, the use of chemicals, processing stops along the route, and other factors related to the environment.
TrusTrace hopes to expand beyond its current client base, including Coop, a Swedish retail chain. As Ghosh explains, one of TrusTrace’s signature advantages is that it fully integrates with a client’s ERP system using blockchain and its own proprietary technology. Being connected to Coop’s inventory management system allows TrusTrace to collect accurate information to document sustainability, which measures ten different parameters across 10,000 food products. In simple terms, TrusTrace creates a mapping of a product’s supply chain, which allows a customer to know essential details about a given product.
In the case of Coop, consumers can use an application that deploys a scanner to investigate the sustainability of a product and manifest that information in an easy-to-read diagram. The parameters used by Coop via its TrusTace implementation are based on an agreement by the county’s leading companies in conjunction with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Ghosh hopes to bring TrusTrace to major retailers across Europe in the coming months and is even eyeing the United States as a potential target. At issue, he explains, is the need for national consensus on specific areas to measure to create a helpful mapping. The lack of a universal agreement in sustainability will be a hindrance to educating consumers worldwide.
TrusTrace is not alone in looking to cash in on this trend. Other companies in this space include Alpharetta, GA-based Aptean, IBM with its Food Trust product, and New York-based ripe.io