Industry body Citrus Australia will lead a $770,000 traceability pilot for high-value exports, funded by Agriculture Victoria,
The funding is part of the Victorian Government's Food to Market program, announced by Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas.
"The Food to Market program is an excellent example of how we are providing timely support to agribusinesses impacted by the pandemic, while capitalising on opportunities to expand into new markets over the longer term," the Minister said.
The Citrus Australia project will utilise leading tracing technology, isotope testing, cool-chain tracking and orchard mapping to enhance traceability.
Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock said the aim was to safeguard the industry from fraudulent activity and ensure the integrity of high-end citrus exports is protected.
Australia exports more than $500 million of citrus each year to over fifty countries.
"By participating in this pilot, we have the opportunity to work through the real world application of emerging technology on farm and through the supply chain," Mr Hancock said.
"We hope to further progress the integration of traceability into the everyday operations of citrus businesses in the future, whether they be farm to customer marketing, proof of origin or tracing a biosecurity outbreak."
The pilot project comprises three components, one of which will build on the successful traceability project led by Citrus Australia last year.
Mr Hancock said the new project would further integrate traceability technology at MFC, utilising additional automation to reduce human data entry. Unique serialised GS1 Digital Link-enabled QR code labels will be added to both bags and cartons of fruit making them traceable by sales unit from end to end.
MFC General Manager Perry Hill said MFC was committed to protecting both the fruit its growers produce and the brands it exports from counterfeiters in overseas markets.
"We see the introduction of unique labelling to our cartons and bags as a critical step forward in our overall protection efforts," Mr Hill said.
"The acceptance of QR Codes around the globe through the pandemic, provides a unique opportunity for marketers to enhance the customer experiences across all products and markets, and fresh citrus is no exception.
"The adoption of this technology by MFC and the wider citrus industry, provides opportunities for direct and targeted marketing, to show our customers the conditions under which the fruit is grown, and locations where the product they are buying is sourced.
"Tracing the product back to its source provides the customer with knowledge and comfort, to make informed buying decisions about the authenticity and provenance of the product."
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