Red meat processors are being armed with real-time supply chain data thanks to a world-leading automated red meat shelf-life calculator.
Data is already being used to maintain shelf life and provide certainty product integrity has not been compromised when in transit to import destinations.
This data automation builds on supply chain intelligence provider Escavox's existing shelf-life calculator.
Escavox chief operations officer Nici Sanderson said the product is not just a temperature trace, it is a live visual of what is happening in the red meat supply chain.
"Escavox offers a live tracking service so we track temperature, humidity, location and time, and upload that live," Ms Sanderson said.
"The thing that makes us unique doing that is we break the journey down into legs.
"Because we get the location points along the way, at the processor, port and in transit, the user really understands what is going on."
The shelf-life calculator has been available for about 18 months, but processors had to contact MLA to download the data, post-event.
Ms Sanderson said this was a time-consuming process so it had been stripped out and all that data was now live.
Data can be accessed on a smartphone or desktop through the Escavox platform.
Ms Sanderson said shelf life data on its own was useful, however what was just as useful was being able to understand how quickly shelf life deteriorates in each stage of the supply chain.
"In theory, you should lose a day of shelf life per day of the journey," she said.
"But if the temperature is too high, and it only needs to be slightly too high, you lose more than a day.
"The rate of loss should be one per day but quite often we see that it is more than a day, even two days."
Escavox's real-time temperature trackers enable processors to identify if this rate of loss is across the board or always in one place.
But thanks to the automation of this data, processors can not only target areas of loss to improve shelf life, they can do it in real time.
Escavox's shelf-life calculator was automated by their technical team in North Sydney and based on the shelf-life calculator developed by Meat & Livestock Australia and the University of Tasmania.
One processor that has been on the journey with Escavox is Australian Organic Meats.
The farmer-owned company was one of two processors involved in a nine-month trial Escavox conducted with MLA to validate the new shelf-life algorithms required for automation.
AOM works with close to 60 organic beef producers to find and supply markets with their premium product.
Business development manager Sam O'Leary said the tool has provided them with greater confidence in the supply chain.
"The opportunity arose to become part of the trial and we saw where it would help us in our cold chain and it has proved to be a very useful tool," Mr O'Leary said.
"It actually saved a couple of customers that we have in the Middle East in terms of seeing where the kinks were in the cold chain and ironing them out.
"We're selling more product to them now than we have in the past, which is really cool."
Having visibility over our product is fantastic.- Sam O'Leary
Mr O'Leary said real-time tracking had given them more control over the cold chain and slight slip-ups could be quickly identified and acted upon.
He cited an example of where product had been air freighted to the United States but had not gone into the fridge as quickly as it should have.
"We were able to send a quick message to our importer and they were able to put it into the fridge; we didn't lose any product," he said.
One of the biggest learnings they encountered was the supply chain variability between air and sea freight.
Even though product arrives more quickly via air, temperature could be more consistently maintained via sea.
Mr O'Leary said if you had a perfect cold chain all the way through, product could last as long as 170 days.
"Having visibility over our product is fantastic," he said.
"It gives you confidence your product will hold and the end consumer will still get a good eating experience."
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