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Development of temperature sensitive labels for products in cold supply chain

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - T-Sense (Development of temperature sensitive labels for products in cold supply chain)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2019-11-30

The problem
T-sense addressed the feasibility of innovative colour-changing indicators capable to show if the temperature of perishables in the cold chain is as desired, i.e. with the tolerant temperature range.
Three types of solutions were analysed, the reversible, irreversible, and time-temperature irreversible. Each of these types could have several forms, respect to thermal attributes (temperature of activation, the region in which the colour changes) and design. Combination of the three solutions could solve all the needs for temperature control of cold chain spaces (reversible solution) and for the items travelling inside the chain (irreversible solutions).
For the cold food supply chain, our primary target market, most important are irreversible solutions. They are proposed for the packaging, either as a label or printed directly on packaging. All solutions must be fully sustainable; therefore, the irreversible indicators must be recyclable together with packaging. Efficient use of resources must be guaranteed and environmental benefit of using the innovative solution must be evident.
Some competitors are known; the competitive analysis shows that our solutions could enter the most abundant market, the consumables, because of acceptable price, recyclability together with packaging, and protection benefits for quality and safety of perishable food. The competing products do not fulfil at least one of these demands.

Importance for the society
First significant impact on society is the volume of food waste. About 25% of temperature sensitive food is wasted due to improper storing temperature, and still we may have troubles with low quality and unsafe food. Preventing food waste has large climate, economic, social, and ethical benefits.
T-sense targeted the cold supply chain of (organic) food, where the benefits of proper care on the products in the cold chain is evident. Moreover, the sustainability demands are highly recognized and are a must. This brings us to the second significant impact on society, which is quality of life of population, where labels are helping all entities in the given cold supply chain to act responsibly, assuring that the food is transported and stored at proper temperature range, taking care that customers will consume non-compromised food.

Overall objectives
• To develop reliable temperature indicators suitable for cold chain (food, seeds, flowers, pharmaceuticals, …)
• To develop a sustainable solution with clear environmental benefit
• To enter the market of (organic) food, also on consumables
T-sense started with technological feasibility. This includes the thermal needs of cold chain regarding products being protected (temperature range, overheating time), demands on handling of the labels/packaging and design. The proposed solutions were analysed in terms of investment needed, workload until potential launching and the reliability to realize it with the current legal concerns. SWOT analysis was made and actions towards using strengths, utilising opportunities and reducing weaknesses are planned.
Considerable attention was devoted to sustainability of the solutions. The regulations concerning the materials used for food packaging were analysed. The recyclability of the irreversible solutions as a part of food packaging was considered. The strategy for Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) was prepared to support efficient formulation, development, upscaling and manufacturing/production of the solutions. The basic guidelines for quality management system were prepared.
The economic feasibility shows current trends on the huge market, main customer segments and analyses competitive advantage of the T-sense solutions. To reach one of the targets, the acceptable price of the labels for application on consumables was evaluated, and it was proven that the price which brings the company potential for further growth and development can be absorbed by the market, can bring significant competitive strength, not affecting the quality of the solution. Market size and market opportunities are increasing with high proposed CAGR, especially on organic food market.
The IPR and legal framework was thoroughly considered to prepare the most suitable and effective IP strategy in order to maximise the potential of the developed solutions.
Product development strategy shows which of the proposed solution are feasible to start with and which could stay to be developed later. Broadening possibility was regarded and spill-over effects was identified. The detailed financial figures show how much we need to realize the plans.
Initial commercialization strategy was prepared together with the directions for improvements.
Current state of the art at the competitive market show solutions that have limitations, both in technical and economic terms. This is especially evident when compared to T-sense solutions; they can offer labels with wider scope of activation temperatures (TA), ranging between -50C and 20C, with the tolerance range of up to 1C. Depending on the solution, shelf life of labels are more than 1 year to potentially unlimited (in case of TTI solutions). Moreover, advanced T-Sense introduces the possibility of non-contact activation of label (compared to competitive solutions that have, in general, only manual activation) which allows automation of the manufacturing process and introduction of labels in high serial production processes.
The economic feasibility analysis shows that the T-Sense are more price-efficient then competitive solutions, where we can offer the price 4 to 50 times lower and still securing growth and development of MyCol.
For the cold food supply chain, as our primary target market, introduction of irreversible solution allows producers to assure the freshness of food and consumables that are coming out of production. It allows identification of critical points in the transport / logistics from the producer to the retail which is crucial from the standpoint of generation of food waste, poor quality or even causing health issues, before it is offered to customers.
From the environmental standpoint, our solutions are proven as environmental-friendly and fully recyclable, so it can be applied on recyclable packages, both as labels or printed directly on a packaging. T-Sense solutions are thus fully aligned with the Green Deal, the efforts of the European Commission towards circular economy.
Economic impact of the project, from the perspective of the company, lies in high replicability potential (several forms of the same type of solution) and spill-over effects (combination of different type of solutions, also for other thermal needs), which was analysed during the project implementation. Namely, it showed through the technical feasibility that there is wide range of industries that can use temperature sensitive solutions in their production process, where they can benefit from. It opens up the possibility to the company to expand its customer portfolio and utilise the potentials it offers.
Company plan is to complete the development cycle, using the combination of SME-2 funding and own resources and/or loans and start with commercialization of the solutions.
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