Connecting DNA-based testing to supply chain software can force suppliers into verifying their products, said the firms.
Using the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, companies can require suppliers to share independently audited tests and give better visibility into the authenticity of foods provided by their supply chain.
Combining microbiology and traceability software
David Jonker, senior director, Big Data Initiatives, SAP said its work with the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and on the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project led to practical applications such as a database of DNA barcodes relevant to food.
“Tru-ID brings ways to test in companies own quality assurance labs with qPCR machines so they can run tests to verify a product is what it claims to be and this is brought into SAP supply chain solutions with the test results.
“It can give you insights such as which lots are passing tests, if the supplier is supplying high quality goods or not and allows the company to take action.”
Jonker said one of the aims is to build a supply chain of trust.
“Food companies are not DNA testing regularly so you have a supply chain where the supplier tells you what it is and the best you can do is a visual check or other verifications,” he said.
“For example, coffee beans, there is a difference between high quality beans from low quality beans, but it is difficult to tell.”
Reputation and financial loss
The cost of the method has also dropped in recent years, he added.
“Companies need to consider potential losses related to food scandals and the reputation effect. They could be the opportunity to take DNA test results back to insurers and reduce premiums.
“We come in at the end and work way our back to the source. Retailers and producers pay the price [of any fraud] as it’s their brand on the line.
“They can push suppliers to take on the onus to provide high quality ingredients and products as if you inform your supplier about poor quality products or ingredients and no action you can drop them as a supplier, once you start doing that the supply chain will clean itself up.”
Most global supply chain visibility tools ensure strict processes and track packaging, but knowing what species are inside the package is challenging because many species can be hard to identify after processing, said the firms.
To help address this challenge and to identify fraud in the food supply chain, SAP and Tru-ID, a member of the SAP Startup Focus program, are exploring ways to increase visibility in the supply chain using SAP HANA.
SAP HANA platform
The SAP HANA platform will be used to collect and analyze data to help crowdsource the identification and analysis of species and identify fraud in the global food supply chain.
Research sponsored by SAP from the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario shows that food contamination and mislabelling is prevalent across the herbs and spices, as well as fish and seafood categories.
Dr Steven Newmaster, founder and scientific adviser for Tru-ID, said it provides the molecular biology, protocol, library and scientific rigour behind the process.
“SME’s differentiate their product from the marketplace and compete with the bigger companies based on pride of the quality of product and flexibility to move quickly,” he said.
“With the publicity around fraud and substitution a lot of labs say we can do this but we can give the scientific rigour.
“Substitution can happen in so many places, it needs to be tested all along the supply chain from farm to the consumer in all types of processed products.
“Tru-ID feels that when you go into a store you should be able to buy what you think you’re buying. We have the ability as scientists to come up with the solution and out in consumers’ hands the ability to know they are getting the products they want.”