Lloyd’s Register will lead a group of UK businesses to reduce waste and build consumer confidence in food supply chains through data and technology. Its mission is to bring the farm-to-fork ecosystem into the digital age


SecQuAL will enable a new breed of high growth UK based innovators to develop critical and integrated technologies. (Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

A group of eleven UK companies has been awarded funding by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for a project designed to bring technology to the fore in the farm-to-fork ecosystem. The award is part of ‘Made Smarter Innovation delivered by UK Research and Innovation’

The SecQuAL (Secure Quality Assured Logistics for Digital Food Ecosystems) project will initially focus on the application of smart labels in pork production, in order to reduce food waste and increase consumer confidence in the food they purchase.

SecQuAL will enable a new breed of high growth UK based innovators to develop critical and integrated technologies which support the increasing digitalisation and provenance transparency of food supply chains through the benefits of blockchain technologies. They will work alongside the established supply chain which is grappling with the added challenges and opportunities of post-Brexit international trade and the current pandemic.
Smart labels are unique digital IDs which can be attached to food, allowing it to be
traced, tracked and monitored in real-time.

The technology can be applied to provide information on food provenance, monitor cold chain conditions, more accurately predict shelf-life and even enable direct feedback from consumers to producers. Smart labelling can also identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies
in supply chains, as well as allowing for remote regulatory oversight and compliance.

Consisting of 11 organisations including IBM with IBM Food Trust, Cranswick Foods PLC and the Food Standards Agency, the SecQuAL consortium brings together experts across technology, software and systems, food production and supply chain regulation and assurance, with the key objectives of the project including:

  • Innovation in food assurance technology.
    Working with technology leaders to develop solutions that support digitalisation and transparency of food supply, in particular through blockchain technologies.
  • Effective data capture and sharing.
    Developing approaches to standardise the collection and sharing of data and building platforms that deliver the right analytical capabilities.
  • Data integrity and governance.
    Best practice and testing of data sources, formats, security and compliance.
  • Integration with assurance standards.
    Working closely with regulators and assurance experts to ensure innovation is compatible and compliant.
  • A broad food sector view.
    Consulting the wider food sector to address the needs of alternative food supply chains in the design of the pilot.

Commenting on the launch of SecQuAL, Stuart Kelly, Sales Director, Business Assurance, LR said:

“It is unthinkable that the assurance of our food will operate within current technological constraints in 10 years time. Concerns about food safety, provenance and waste, combined with expectations of low food prices, mean that supply chains will have to become smarter and more efficient. With our established expertise in the food sector and with the visibility that LR has right across the supply chain, we are in a unique position to help the food industry take this step.”

Clive Stephens, Head of Research and Development at leading food producer, Cranswick PLC, said:

“Our vision is to be the world’s most sustainable meat business through our Second Nature sustainability programme. To achieve this goal we need to adopt new technology and operating processes at every stage of our business, from farm to fork. We are excited to join the SecQuAL programme to improve traceability throughout the supply chain; reduce waste, especially once products leave our sites, and to utilise a tool to directly engage and educate consumers about the provenance and quality of the products they are purchasing.”

Prof. Rick Mumford, Head of Science, Evidence & Research, Food Standard Agency said:

“The Food Standards Agency is delighted to be part of the SecQuAL consortium. As a modern regulator, we regularly explore innovative approaches to enhance food safety and standards. As a partner, we will get a chance to engage first-hand with leading-edge technology and evaluate the potential this might have for supporting the work we do with industry to ensure food supply chain integrity.”

Luq Niazi, General Manager Global Distribution Sector & Global Managing Director Consumer Industries, IBM said:

“Trust, sustainability, authenticity and transparency are now the values embedded in the social contract between consumers, retailers and food producers. SecQuAL brings together the key players needed to improve trust across the full supply chain – from farm to fork. At the same time, there is also opportunity to reduce waste and have a lasting impact on the use of the earth’s resources. Having such a high-quality group of members in the consortium means many of the bases are covered in the UK bringing a unique synergy of knowledge, technology and experience to make a difference for the food value chain.”

Source: Company Press Release