Global supply chain innovation trial seeks UK retailers to tackle food waste


The SecQuAL project – an innovation trial that aims to improve efficiency in supply chains and reduce food waste – is seeking leading UK retailers to participate in tests and trials to help improve food traceability.

Global food-sharing technology organisation, OLIO, recently reported that almost 1.3bn tonnes of food – which could feed the population of Italy for a lifetime – is spoiled in transit or thrown away by consumers around the world each year. The same report suggested that over one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste, while 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is not eaten. 

Retailers have an important role to play in ensuring food waste is minimised and are being called upon to join the SecQuAL (Secure Quality Assured Logistics for Digital Food Ecosystem) project. Led by supply chain assurance specialists LRQA, SecQuAL brings together a consortium of 11 organisations aiming to develop smart tags and labels, placing technology at the fore in the farm-to-fork ecosystem to help create a meat traceability system. Upon completion, the project will help reduce waste, track food, leverage real-time data for an efficient decision-making process, and enhance customer trust in food they procure. 

Participating retailers will be able to take advantage of a number of benefits presented by the food tracking solution, including supply chain transparency to customers that will enable greater brand loyalty. Having the ability to track carbon footprint through the SecQuAL project is another key benefit for retailers, allowing them to play a critical role towards achieving the UK’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050.

With food waste prevalent on a global scale, the ability to identify sources of this growing issue thanks to digital surveillance could lead to a new standard for accountability. Overhauling the food supply chain from farm to fork, the project will use pork as the example product to provide insight and assurance to enable better decision making. It will do this by addressing inefficient paper practices, allowing remote regulatory oversight of processes. 

A recent report by the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has indicated that consumers are open to changing their habits to reduce food waste. In a series of surveys undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic, the report found that 79% of respondents undertook new food management behaviours, such as using leftovers and planning meals ahead of shopping. 

According to Stuart Kelly, Sales Director, Business Assurance, LRQA, changing consumer attitudes towards food provenance gives the perfect impetus for retailers to sign up to participate in the SecQuAL project. He said: “SecQuAL is set to revolutionise the efficiencies of the global food supply chain and we have made excellent progress as we look at how to increase the shelf life of food products. The global food waste crisis is only increasing, and we believe that current practices can be simplified to ensure the entire food ecosystem works together to improve future performance. We are now looking for leading retailers to join the project as we look to test the digital technologies.”

Clive Stephens, Head of Research and Development at leading food producer, Cranswick PLC, said: "We are pleased with the project progress to date. So far, we have helped develop work packages, plan and design the project system, as well as support with risk management. We are now moving into the Proof Of Concept and implementation stages, turning theory into a practical commercial proposition. We are confident that the result will provide an industry-leading solution.”

The SecQuAL project began in 2021, after being awarded funding by the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge at UK Research and Innovation.. Expected to complete by March 2023, the consortium of 11 organisations is made up of LRQA, IBM, PragmatIC Semiconductor Ltd, RSK ADAS, Advanced Material Development, BlakBear, Centre for Process Innovation Limited, Consus Fresh Solutions, Cranswick PLC, CCL design and Food Standards Agency. 

Add a Comment

No messages on this article yet

Editorial: +44 (0)1892 536363
Publisher: +44 (0)208 440 0372
Subscribe FREE to the weekly E-newsletter