Friday, June 17, 2011

Agro based clusters and traceability

With the recent ecoli incidents in Europe I suspect it may get even worse for farmers in developing countries to sell their products. German authorities are now certain that it was locally grown products that were to blame, but the average consumer may have become more conscious that it matters where foodstuff comes from.

So what should growers of fruit and vegetables in developing countries do to secure market access?

Last weekend I read a FAO report on Agro based clusters in developing countries. I have become involved in the design of such a cluster, with focus on using electronic traceability for creating product documentation. This solution is intended to support the cluster in creating market advantages through the use of modern export and sales support technologies. But can this also be used to make the end consumer trust the products?

A pilot in the eTrace project had success with using traceability information in the dialog with consumers at the point of sale. According to the fish monger “Instead of selling just a few kilos a day, I sold more than 150 kilos over 4 days. This is a very significant increase for us.”

Can similar effects be expected if flowers, fruit and vegetables from developing countries are equipped with traceability information? And how should it be done, by printing the information on the packaging or by providing links to online solutions like this (in Norwegian)?

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