Achieving effective traceability systems for the domestic fresh produce industry in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Food Technology at Massey University, Albany Campus, New Zealand

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A reliable and effective traceability system is important to the food industry especially when a foodborne illness outbreak occurs. In particular, fresh fruit and vegetables are highly perishable, fragile, seasonal, diverse products with relatively short shelf life, thereby making their value chain complex and fast-paced. Hence, the traceability system in the fresh produce industry becomes critical in the event of a food crisis where products need to be tracked and traced in a timely manner. The objective of this study was to investigate current traceability systems in the fresh produce industry in New Zealand and also to explore potential improvement in the traceability system along the domestic supply chains. There were four different methods applied in this study: observation of traceability information available on fresh produce products, interviews with industry participants using a questionnaire, survey strategy by means of a questionnaire that was sent to growers, and a pilot study using GS1 technology to examine a modelled traceability system in two supply chains of strawberries. There were 336 fresh produce samples observed for traceability information analysis throughout the supply chain. Four growers, three wholesalers and one retailer from the fresh produce industry participated the face to face interviews. The questionnaire developed in the survey was sent to 578 growers with 40 of them responded and answered. Two pallets of strawberries were selected and GS1 (Global Standards One) barcodes and systems were used in the pilot study to track and trace each strawberry punnet throughout the supply chains. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from produce traceability data samples, interviewed industry stakeholders, surveyed growers, and the pilot study to generate empirical information on traceability systems along fresh produce supply chains in New Zealand. Subsequently, data were analysed using quantitative tools such as frequency distributions, Chi-Square test (X2) and Fisher’s Exact test, and qualitative descriptions in this study. The findings show that fragmentation of product traceability information, lack of standardisation in data format and information asymmetry exist in the domestic fresh produce industry. As only a ‘one-up, one-down’ traceability system for food businesses is required by regulators in New Zealand, industry players intend to solely focus on their own or internal needs without recognising the importance of an industry-wide traceability system in the fresh produce supply chain. The findings pose a question mark as to whether or not the ‘one-up, one-down’ traceability requirement is sufficient for the fresh produce industry. The findings also indicate that an effective and efficient external traceability system throughout the fresh produce value chain in New Zealand is feasible to implement by industry-wide cooperation from growers, packers, transporters and receivers/buyers. This study fills the gap found in the literature where few academic papers focused attention on traceability systems in the fresh produce industry in New Zealand.
Figures 2.1 (=Bosona & Gebresenbet, 2013 Fig 2) & 2.2 (=Fan et al., 2019 Fig 1) were removed for copyright reasons. Figure 2.7 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives International License (CC-BY-NC-ND).
Produce trade, New Zealand, Safety measures, Inventory control, Tracking (Engineering)