Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


IFLFSCTM Report Summary

Project ID: 729221

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IFLFSCTM (Intelligent Freshtag Labels for Supply Chain Temperature Monitoring)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Problem and Importance to Society:

The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy lists the reduction of food waste as a key factor within its wider aims. This includes the commitment under the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015, to reduce food waste per capita by 50% by 2030 at a consumer and retail level, while also working to minimize waste within the wider supply chain.
Driving these commitments and targets, is the fact that the global population is set to exceed 9.3 billion people by 2050, with the demand for food set to increase by 50-70% over the course of the next 35 years. Supply of food is already a serious issue with almost 800 million people round the world classed as severely undernourished . There are however, limits on how much further agricultural yields can be improved and as a result focus needs to be extended to improving practices across existing food supply chains.
With an increased focus on extending or maximizing the shelf life of food products, “supply chain efficiency” has been highlighted as one of the major priorities in the fight against food waste. Figure 1 highlights the level of losses that occur through the distribution of fruit and vegetables globally . Temperature control in particular is a key factor in ensuring that food maintains its freshness from point of picking or production all the way to consumption.
Small variations in temperature during the transportation of perishable and fresh food, can have a major impact on the overall life of the product; fresh cut salad being a perfect example, where every increase of 1°C will shorten the life of the product by 1 day. This is significant on a product where the product life after packing ranges from 10-16 days.
This need for strict temperature control, drives a huge demand from producers, distributors and retailers for innovative and cost efficient methods for monitoring temperature through the supply chain.


- To produce further prototype Freshtag labels that will be used in live trials with customers in Europe across a range of restaurant, food service and supermarket retailers.
- Define optimal requirements from the test customers and carry out extensive live testing
- Attend FachPack in Nuremberg in September 2016 to showcase the technology to a wider audience
- Research developing markets
- Use of all the results and data gathered to structure a business plan that moves forward to large scale trials with a range of customers as part of a Phase 2 project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Task 1: TASK 1: Produce range of new labels for use in pilots
Identified and then produced 7 different versions of the Freshtag labels. This included 3 variations of the Stock Rotation label and 4 variations of the Temperature Monitoring label.
Following the production of the labels, these were packed in a protected, CO2 rich environment ready for customer trials

Task 2: Customer Trials
Pilots were run with 4 key customers across a range of food service, supermarket retailer and restaurant operations. The identity of the customers cannot be disclosed at this time due to ongoing negotiations and confidentiality agreements but is included in the full report.
The trials were used to stress test the technology in a live environment, being placed on product entering and moving through the supply chain.
The trials were overseen and monitored by Insignia staff (with one exception) and ran for an average of 10 days.
Following the completion of each trial, a presentation and summary of results was produced for the benefit of both the customer and the Insignia team.

Task 3: Fachpack
Significant time and effort was invested in ensuring that the presentation of the exhibition booth was professional and clearly communicated the strengths and benefits of the technology.
In order to achieve the best possible results, Insignia engaged with existing contacts to gain advice and support on creation of wall mounted graphics and an eye catching video display to communicate the technology not just to the visitors to the booth, but to a wider online audience in advance of the show.
In addition marketing information in the form of take home leaflets was produced. The leaflets included a designated area to apply a functioning label to in order that the visitors to the booth would be able to witness the colour change of the label over the course of the show.

Task 4: Research Developing Markets
This piece of work which had been planned during the original application was not carried out as part of the project.
The full reasons are disclosed in the final report, but the decision was made that there was sufficient opportunity in the markets already targeted (UK, Europe and US) to focus on for now.
Market research was covered in part during the business plan and market gathering completed as part of Task 5.

Task 5: Business Plan
Through the course of the project, the key focus from all of the tasks, has been geared towards understanding the potential business opportunity for this technology.
A significant part of the work that took place at each stage of the project, was therefore geared towards understanding the wider market opportunity, establishing the best routes to bring this to the market, building a picture of the type of customers that would be interested in this technology, and starting to understand what the sales could look like.
A business plan has been developed and is being continually updated as the project moves forwards.

The success of this project cannot be understated at this time and the progress that has been made is highly satisfying. The funding received as part of the project, has enabled the team to fast forward the advanced customer testing required to bring this technology to market.
From the initial steps of proving the ability to scale up the technology, through to the successful trials with Brakes and Kroger, and the lessons learned from the not so successful trial with Autogrill, the project has offered up many learning experiences.
Not only has the business made a significant step forward towards commercialising this technology, but the team has undergone a transformational learning experience. The practical lessons, from the time spent with Macfarlane Labels, working with customers, attending the trade show and compiling the business plan, were augmented by the coaching that was supplied by Jim Dearie of UXL Ltd.
Whilst the project only ran for six months, the momentum that has been achieved, and the advanced awareness of the capabilities of the technology, means that the team is now well set to drive the commercialisation process forwards.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Additional Progress

- Early in 2016, shortly after the application had been submitted, Insignia entered this technology into the Best New Concept category for the UK packaging awards. The Freshtag was subsequently shortlisted. Whilst we did not go onto win the award, the coverage generated by being nominated in this illustrious category, alongside entries from heavyweight packaging companies like Parkside, RAP and Clifton Packaging Group, has generated additional interest and brought the company to the attention of a much wider audience.
- Development work has continued to increase the functionality/timing of the Freshtag system and this has allowed for a wider range of options to be presented to new and interested parties. Insignia continues to work with customers to understand their needs and requirements and offer solutions that are tailored to them.
- As well as the four trials that were run as part of the SME Instrument project, additional trials have been going on, alongside and following on from the May – October trial period.

Potential Impact

- The work carried out to date and the positive momentum gained in bringing this towards commercialisation can have a strong societal impact in several ways
By running more efficient cold supply chains and better rotating stock, the food industry as a whole can work towards its goals of reducing waste and increasing food safety
By engaging with staff in the supply chain, the food industry can start to improve its best practice procedures
By better controlling temperature within the food supply chain, there is a very real possibility that the shelf life of many food products could actually be extended, reducing the amount of food that is wasted.
This will not only have a beneficial impact on reducing climate change (through less food going to landfill), but might also help to ensure that more food is passed to those who truly need it, instead of being discarded.

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