A new tool has been launched helping red meat suppliers to monitor in real time, shelf-life days remaining on chilled beef and lamb products moving through the global supply chain.
The new automated function, based on the MLA shelf-life calculator, has been released by Australian supply chain intelligence provider Escavox to help red meat suppliers make improvements to their supply chains empowered by real-time data.
Escavox Chief Operations Officer, Nici Sanderson, said the Escavox shelf-life calculator provided customers with insights to improve supply chain performance, extend product shelf-life, protect brand integrity and strengthen quality assurance.
“The Escavox shelf-life calculator predicts the length of time available for the product to be safely consumed, allowing suppliers to make decisions about their supply chain arrangements at any point in the journey,” Ms Sanderson said.
“It makes supply chain issues tangible and instantly actionable.
“As well as seeing the temperature spike, we can now demonstrate the impact of that temperature spike on the product’s edible shelf life.
“Red meat suppliers can then have the confidence to consign their products over a longer time frame, potentially providing access to more export markets via more efficient and sustainable shipping methods, such as sea freight instead of airfreight.”
Ms Sanderson said Escavox converted captured supply chain data into an operational function to give food suppliers direct control over maximising product quality improvement in-chain, while achieving measurable business efficiencies.
Utilising the Escavox shelf-life calculator, she said, would give food suppliers the opportunity to retain more value through reduced product loss and spoilage, resulting in lower volumes of waste and a decreased carbon footprint.
“Our customers across all food categories already understand and manage their product’s experience in the supply chain from their desktop computer or smart device,” she said.
“They do this by having access to Escavox dashboards showing in real-time what their product is experiencing in the supply chain.
“For red meat customers, our dashboards now deliver the added enhancement of an automated shelf-life calculator integrated with Escavox supply chain tracking, predicting how much life their product will have once it reaches its destination.”
The Escavox shelf-life calculator was automated by Escavox’s technical team in North Sydney from the shelf-life calculator developed by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the University of Tasmania (UTAS), released under a creative commons licence.
The calculator’s automation within the Escavox dashboard follows a nine-month trial the company conducted with MLA to validate new shelf-life algorithms for chilled beef and lamb in vacuum packaging.
The culmination of three years’ work by MLA and UTAS researchers, the shelf-life algorithms were ‘road tested’ by Escavox in thousands of cartons of red meat in export tracks via air and sea using Escavox smart trackers to monitor time, temperature, location, light and humidity.
Announced in April, the trial results showed that moving and storing vacuum packed chilled red meat consistently at or below -0.5C resulted in a rate of shelf-life loss per day of less than one day.
Conversely, moving or storing red meat consistently above -0.5C means shelf life is lost at a faster rate than one day per day of journey time.
The trial also confirmed that continuous monitoring of location and temperature across the supply chain from processor to destination could extend beef shelf-life by up to 50 days, and up to 30 days for lamb, provided crucial data from tracking, such as the technology deployed by Escavox, is used to improve cool chain operations.
MLA’s Project Manager of Market Access and Science, Long Huynh, said It was important for supply chain managers to understand the impact of temperature.
“There is $60 million worth of unforeseen shelf life lost due to insufficient cold chain control within the Australian red meat supply chain alone, spanning from processors to customers,” he said.
“The implementation of the shelf-life calculator into the Escavox dashboard is a major shift from temperature data to useful and actionable information.
“Escavox is the first, real time supply chain data company to be able to implement and visualise the impact of shelf life based on temperature.”
Return on investment “substantial”
Ms Sanderson said that following the trial, participating red meat suppliers were able to prove that even on significantly delayed shipments, the remaining shelf life on the product after arrival still met import requirements.
The shelf-life calculator, she said, would now give suppliers a sharper tool, offering faster and more accessible forecasting capability to take supply chain management to another level of sophistication.
“This is a particularly relevant result considering the current disruptions to global shipping due to the pandemic,” Ms Sanderson said.
“For the exporter moving significant volumes of beef or lamb that represents substantial savings and potentially increased profit.”
Ms Sanderson said the shelf-life calculator represented a significant evolution in Escavox’s offering to the fresh food industry.
“As a result of the trial work we did with MLA, red meat suppliers are now able to monitor their supply chains in real time and, if required, make adjustments to extend product life to avoid spoilage and wastage at journey’s end,” she said.
“For suppliers who subscribe to the feature, that’s money flowing back to their bottom line, while improving quality for the customer and reducing food waste.”
Supply chain solutions provided by Escavox to help red meat suppliers address gaps in their cold chain are eligible for industry financial assistance, with up to 50 per cent of implementation costs available to support technical upgrades.