Researchers at Agriculture Victoria look at new sensor and traceability technologies

Agriculture Victoria Research (AVR) demonstrate the benefits of using real-time data loggers and new sensor technologies to monitor the export cool chain. Minimising temperature fluctuations and streamlining the supply chain will improve the quality and consistency of Victorian grown cherries in South East Asian markets.

Lady at markets in Asia

South East Asia is an important emerging market for Australian cherries that was valued at more than $13M in 2018-19.

This project highlights the importance of both ‘time’ and ‘temperature’ on irradiated cherries transported by road from Victoria to Queensland, and then air freighted from Brisbane directly to Hanoi (Vietnam) or indirectly to Saigon via Singapore or Taiwan.

AVR are conducting a second round of cool chain monitoring with a focus on the new market of South Korea, and other key markets such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, that accept Australian cherries.

If industry can strive for continual improvement, then growers and exporters will be in a stronger position to deliver premium quality cherries around the world.

Project Objectives:

  1. Monitor temperatures in the export supply chain for Victorian grown cherries from the grower to key markets in Asia.
  2. Identify delays or problems associated with poor temperature management along the supply chain and advise industry on areas of improvement.
  3. Inspect a minimum of two cherry consignments in Asia and assess fruit quality out-turn linked to ‘real-time’ temperature monitoring.
  4. Visually assess Australian grown fruit in Asia to benchmark Victorian grown produce against other states in Australia.
  5. Assist the cherry industry to improve produce quality in export markets through:
  • employing and testing new innovative sensor technologies and data capture solutions with traceability along domestic and export supply chains; and
  • sharing research findings with cherry growers, exporters and other key stakeholders along along supply chains.
Cherries on a forklift

Cherries from Victoria on a fork lift in Vietnam

Picture of people at the Ben Thanh market in Vietnam

Ben Thanh market, Vietnam

Cherries from airfreight SAIGON VIETNAM

Cherries from airfreight being unloaded

Ben Thanh market

Ben Thanh market, Vietnam

Fruit at Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh market, Vietnam

Fruit on Shelves at Big C Supermarket

Fruit on Shelves at Big C Supermarket, Vietnam

Street Market Saigon Vietnam

Fruit sold on Street Market, Saigon, Vietnam

Real-time temperature monitoring for Victorian cherries

These data loggers record temperature, humidity, location, light, and shock/vibration and will highlight if, and where, any impacts on fruit quality are occurring along the supply chain.

Agriculture Victoria scientist Glenn Hale said “The aim of the project is to encourage growers to utilize new technology to help monitor the supply chain in real-time so if there are any issues then they can be dealt with immediately before it is too late”.

“Harvesting fresh cherries at the optimal maturity is the first step in achieving great quality as is handling them at the correct temperature, as fruit quality can only ever be maintained after harvest but not improved,”.

“It’s definitely a team effort for everyone in the export process to work together, whether it be contract pickers, packers, transport companies, treatment providers, freight forwarders or airlines, so that these highly perishable fruits arrive in overseas markets in the best possible condition”.

“Monitoring the supply chain in real-time makes all the links more accountable for their actions as loggers can be initially set up with temperature thresholds so that an alert is sent via email or text if the threshold is breached”.

“There will also be an opportunity for growers and exporters to trial, and provide feedback, on a new dashboard that has been developed between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland in consultation with other fruit growers and Agriculture Victoria. The dashboard has been designed to stream-line the programming process that is required to set-up the loggers soon after activating them”, he said.

Smart trackers to monitor fresh cherry exports

Testing new sensor technologies for cherry exports

Charlotte Brunt from Cherry Growers Australia, encourages small, medium and large growers to participate, and learnings from these research trials will be shared with industry through regular communications during the season, and a summary report at the end of the season.

Acknowledgement

This project is funded by the Agriculture Policy group within the Export Development and Investment Strategy at Agriculture Victoria with the goal of increasing Victoria’s food and fiber exports to A$20B by 2030.

Growing Food and Fibre Markets