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Traceability of the swine value chain: SMEs independence from famous trademarks (P2P)

Periodic Report Summary - P2P (Traceability of the swine value chain: SMEs independence from famous trademarks)

Starting from the existing experiences and technologies fitting the requirements, the project focused on the spreading of the traceability, paying particular attention to the weak rings of the value chain, that are made of smaller independent companies. In general, food value chains involve many small and very small companies. P2P project assumes that all the companies have already implemented (or are going to implement) their own traceability system.

Even if each company has its own traceability system, lack of homogeneity among the different systems makes it difficult for citizens or authorities to trace a product history all along the value chain. Only authorised officers with well-targeted audits in all the companies involved can trace the product history, and specific level of permissions and different profiles with proper security level will be defined in the project.

It is important to stress the fact that the P2P project did not research for a new traceability system, but it represents the first step to uniform (at European level) the automatic inquiry of the traceability systems to retrieve the information from different companies and build the history of a product.

For the P2P project, quick collection meant that the automatic collection of the necessary information should take few minutes (preferably seconds), while the traditional collection of the same information and documents (in paper format) could take weeks or months if several companies are involved.

The reference sector of application and validation of the P2P results and approach is the swine value chain: the project involves some companies of this sector that have been used to validate and tune the system. In addition, the obtained results have been experimented also in other sectors and different kinds of companies with good results, giving the confirmation that it is feasible to extend successfully the project results also to other food sectors.

To reach this objectives, the P2P project delivered:
- trace methodology: a methodology supporting traceability information collection in the companies (in particular how and what information);
- trace-XML protocol: a minimum set of information to trace each batch and the related communication protocol;
- trace-SW: a software tool supporting collection, archiving and management of information and documents related to the traceability;
- trace-browser / trace mobile browser: an ICT tool (internet-based) to browse the traceability information compliant with the TRACE-XML protocol.

The result of the performed analysis demonstrated that a key research and technological development (RTD) issue, in order to set-up a traceability system for a company, in reference to the legal requirements represents the development of a small and medium-sized entreprise (SME)-tailored methodology.

The pilots have returned positive feedbacks about the approach that was chosen during the design phase. The trace XML protocol is very easy to be implemented by the technical point of view mainly due to the limited number of mandatory information that the protocol require. Moreover, the XML approach supports a flexible management of the contents so that the protocols can share information even if the company has already adopted any kind of standard for data representation (in particular for batch definition). Finally, the new version of the trace XML protocol supports the auxiliary information so that the company can decide to share any other information related to batches or transports.