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Case Study: SecQuAL


Pragmatic is part of SecQuAL (Secured Quality Assured Logistics for Digital Food Ecosystems), a consortium of 11 companies that aims to reduce waste and build consumer confidence in food supply chains.

Funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the ‘Made Smarter Innovation’ initiative from UK Research and Innovation, the project will oversee the development of integrated technologies to support digitalisation and provenance transparency.

The challenge

A staggering 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems, yet over a third of all food produced is wasted – largely within retail environments or in consumers’ homes.

During transit from farm to fork, fresh food is vulnerable to environmental fluctuations that can impact quality and freshness. Produce suppliers face fines if fresh foods degrade ahead of use by dates, so these dates tend to be conservative. This can result in disposal of food that is still good to eat.

Adding intelligence sensing to product packaging is an efficient way to detect changes to in-pack conditions, and so determine the freshness of foods. But due to cost, smart packaging has typically been reserved for high-value items.

Fresh food

The solution

As part of the SecQuAL project, Pragmatic has worked with partners to develop a smart NFC sensing solution, based on FlexICs, to measure in-pack conditions of fresh meat products. This low-cost technology makes it viable to add intelligence to high-volume products, making insights available to retailers and consumers, increasing widespread adoption and positively impacting the fight against food waste.

Solution benefits include:

More accurate prediction of shelf life

Used with temperature and moisture sensors, FlexIC-based RFID tags can monitor the real-time condition of food, boosting customer confidence, enabling dynamic pricing and preventing premature disposal.

Easy information access

Items can be scanned quickly and easily by retailers, using existing scanners, or by consumers, using a standard smartphone.

Quality and provenance assurance

FlexIC-based RFID tags allow complex source information to be conveyed at each stage of the food’s journey – including post-purchase, via smartphone compatibility.

Cold chain monitoring

Tags – in combination with sensors – can safeguard the integrity of temperature-sensitive goods, ensuring that thermal standards are maintained during transportation.

Granular data-based insights

Readers throughout the value chain provide valuable insights for retailers and brand owners, from helping to identify bottlenecks, or providing full traceability in the case of complaints or recalls.  

Working with food sensor specialists Blakbear, and CPI’s innovation services, a custom solution has been developed for, and tested by, fresh food specialist Cranswick Foods and its supply network of UK retailers. The solution will then be rolled out to more producers and retailers, to demonstrate economic viability of intelligent packaging and systems.

Potential use cases:

1How much of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food?

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