Fresh food management has become increasingly important, as we become more aware of issues with food waste and fresh food that has been temperature abused which creates an increased risk for food safety. Additionally, consumers are placing greater emphasis on dietary choices and nutrition, driving their preference for the freshest possible food.
It’s these reasons why it is so crucial to have the capability to monitor the supply chain from farm to fork to proactively address and ultimately prevent these issues. By knowing where in the chain these issues are occurring, we can convert that data into actions to significantly reduce the amount of food waste and increase the quality of the food that ends up in groceries, restaurants, and homes. Evigence’s focus on freshness management provides actionable insights and alerts that helps to prevent issues with food waste and food safety risks.
The food supply chain may be efficient, but it can be long as well and freshness management needs to be maintained throughout the entire food journey, from farm-to-fork. Below, we’ll break down the steps in the journey from production to when it’s placed on the plate of the consumer. Afterward, we’ll dive into the functionality of Evigence’s sensors and the distinct advantages they offer to brands, distributors and retailers in tracking food freshness throughout this journey.
The Farm-to-Fork Journey
The farm-to-fork journey includes all the stages food goes through to reach the consumer. It starts with the sourcing of natural resources through agricultural efforts on farms and in food production facilities. It’s at this next step, the cleaning and packaging of food, where our freshness sensors come into play. Then, the transportation of these food items across the globe for delivery to the local vendors who ultimately provide it to the consumer.
During this journey, the goal is for food to remain fresh and free of microorganisms that could make you sick, and there are measures taken along the journey to help prevent microbial contamination. The 5 stages in the farm-to-fork journey are: production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumer.
The first step in the farm-to-fork journey is production, which takes place at the farm. There are many parts during the production phase where food might become contaminated. For example, the soil the plants are grown in, fertilizers, the water used for irrigation, or pesticides could contain harmful microorganisms that could contaminate the plants. Also, cross-contamination between plants could spread pathogens among them. This scenario is not unique to plants, but can also occur in meat, grains, and other food sources.
When ready, fruits and vegetables are harvested, and workers make sure that the produce is good by performing a quality inspection to check if it’s damaged or appears to be infected in any way.
2. Cleaning and Packaging
After food is harvested and inspected, it is cleaned and packaged before being shipped to the consumer or to factories to be processed.
First, all produce is carefully washed with cleaning agents. If not washed properly, pathogens may survive on their surfaces for a long time. After being cleaned, depending on the desired final product, the fruits and vegetables will be cut, dried, smoked, fermented, or left as-is. Then, the foods may be packaged into containers. Proper packaging prevents bacteria from growing within the packaging and contaminating the food. Whole fruits and vegetables that are cleaned but not packaged are put into boxes to be sold as bulk produce.
Cleaning and packaging ensures food remains fresh and uncontaminated and is an important step along the journey.
The distribution phase consists of the transportation and storage of food products. Once food items have been cleaned and packaged, they are typically loaded into temperature-controlled vehicles, guaranteeing the preservation of freshness and the safety of the products. It’s important to note that incorrect refrigeration temperatures can lead to the spoilage of produce and potentially foster the growth of any lingering harmful microorganisms.
Subsequently, these food products are delivered to warehouses where they undergo preparations for distribution to various retailers. It’s crucial to maintain proper conditions within the warehouse to avoid spoilage and the proliferation of microbial contaminants. Factors such as elevated temperatures or excessive moisture in the air can contribute to these issues.
After the food items have been delivered to the retailers , they’re then set out to be sold to consumers. Meanwhile, fresh produce that hasn’t been prepackaged is prominently featured in the produce section, where it is once again susceptible to contamination, this time directly from consumers. Hence, it is highly advisable to thoroughly wash and clean all produce before consumption, with special attention to leafy greens like spinach and lettuce.
In addition to retailers, food may also be delivered to other establishments, such as restaurants. While the likelihood of post-transportation contamination is lower in such professional environments, it’s important to note that the risk is not entirely eliminated.
The consumer phase, often referred to as the “fork step,” involves consumers taking the food products to their homes for preparation and consumption.
Once foods are in a consumer’s home, there are still potential avenues for contamination to be aware of. These include the risk of cross-contamination with other foods, the use of improperly washed cooking utensils, the presence of contaminated cutting boards, and cooking with unclean hands, among others.
Fresh Food Management You Can Trust
It can be tricky to keep track of and manage the freshness of food along the farm-to-fork journey. However, with Evigence, this process becomes significantly more reliable, accurate, and smoother.
We measure food’s freshness in a new, smarter way to help businesses improve the quality and freshness of food delivered to their customers while also reducing food waste. We combine sensors with data analytics to monitor food’s freshness in real time, at the item level, all the way from production to consumption. This intense level of observations provides unparalleled data insights that helps to optimize freshness in supply chains, inventory, and even in consumers’ homes.
Our freshness management platform allows an accurate assessment of the level of product freshness throughout the entire supply chain, extending to individual retail units. Our sensors, known as time-temperature indicators (TTIs), meticulously and consistently monitor the freshness of perishable items by tracking cumulative time and temperature and relay this vital information to both employees and customers. This communication is facilitated through direct visual observation or a digital scan.
The sensors, conveniently embodied as cost-effective product labels, can be seamlessly applied during high-speed manufacturing processes at nearly any phase of the journey. The sensor will gradually transition in color, enabling an employee or consumer to view the process degradation or spoilage of the product. This color shift stands as a reliable indicator of remaining shelf life, as it’s consistently accurate within a margin of +/- 10%.
When working with us, you’ll be able to make informed decisions and take proactive action to guarantee the quality and safety of your food, reduce waste and operational inefficiencies, and improve the profitability and sustainability of your business.
Work With Evigence
Real-time food freshness management and monitoring throughout the food supply chain, along with data analytics, is proven to improve visibility and decision-making along the farm-to-fork journey. Our sensors effectively minimize waste, enhance environmental sustainability, and boost profitability.
Enlisting Evigence as your freshness management partner ensures that you will remain informed of issues as they unfold, offering you the essential information and insights required to respond promptly to real-time condition changes. This approach significantly reduces food waste, enhances delivered freshness, and elevates customer satisfaction levels.
Interested in working with us? Apply for our cold chain freshness management or last mile freshness management applications today. And if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us to learn more and discover how working with us will impact your bottom line and increase customer loyalty.
Oria Malka, VP Sales