Scans link each individual produce basket to the specific grower where it was grown.
QR codes are hardly new to the produce section at the grocery store these days. That said, scans often provide general information about the product or its brand. It might also provide information about the sustainability of the packaging or information regarding its recyclability.
That said, even if quick response barcodes provide general information specifics are rare.
Coöperatie Hoogstraten started introducing QR codes in 2019 to help provide improved tracing in the fruit and vegetable sector. The barcodes offered benefits to growers, packers, retails and consumers who wanted to be able to trace the products they want to buy or that they’ve already purchased. The barcode also helped to boots automation solutions for simplifying tasks to reduce labor-intensive and monotonous tasks.
Now, the company has replaced the older barcodes using cardboard instead of plastic and skipping a number previously required. Back then, “People could enter a numbered code, found on the punnet, on our website and thus learn more about the product and its grower,” said Coöperatie Hoogstraten Operations Manager Jeroen Swolfs. “But the punnets were made of plastic. And at growers, workers still had to prepare all the boxes in the trays by hand before they began harvesting in the greenhouses. Some growers have two full-time employees for this. We wanted to use a QR code to directly link the product to the grower’s profile and to get accurate information throughout the supply chain. We also didn’t want to use plastic anymore.”
The RFID chips were added to the baskets along with the QR codes.
The QR codes and additional RFID were introduced to help to reduce the amount of manual labor required for each of the growers as well as in the company’s own warehouses. This was made in collaboration with an RFID solution supplier Aucxis and with the strawberry punnet (basket) supplier, Smurfit Kappa.
This collaboration brought about the complete Track & Trace system for the packaging. It guaranteed that the products could be traced right back from the retailer right through to the grower. At the same time, it also helps the company to save labor throughout that line as well.