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Advanced data analytics ensures authenticity and premium marketability of Malaysian agricultural products

A new tracking system will ensure that durian lovers around the world buy authentic frozen durian from Malaysia.  With the Mi-Trace Traceability System, jointly developed by the Department of Agriculture, MIMOS, Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) and the Malaysian Durian Exporters Association, consumers can use their smart phones to scan the QR code on the fruit packaging and know its origin, expiry date, production date, exporting and importing companies.  Developed in 2010, Mi-Trace’s first project was to create a traceability system for premium agricultural products, specifically for exports of frozen durian to China. The wealth of business intelligence accumulated by Mi-Trace can be used to enhance sales and operation efficiency through product trail information, outlet sales efficiency and best-selling items. Product movement is traced using data sharing that implement GS1 EPCIS Standards.

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Challenges
The increase in global trade has made a large variety of agricultural products and foods accessible from one country to another. Consumers are now expecting products, especially food, to be available without needing to worry about the authenticity of what they are buying. This requires an effective system that can offer visibility and traceability through the supply chain from the farm to the consumer. The tracking system can help boost consumer confidence overseas that they are buying authentic Malaysian agricultural products, which in this pilot project is frozen durian, making it difficult for unscrupulous fruits sellers to cheat customers about the origins of the fruit, build product/trade item reliability, authenticity and trust, as well as to aid in regulatory compliance.

Solution
Mi-Trace is an intelligent end-to-end traceability platform that tracks and traces any product or trade item that is registered in the system using information gathered from multiple read-points or parties. Mi-Trace links three major user roles – Consumer, Authority and Product Owner – in a transparent information loop to build product/trade item reliability, authenticity and trust as well as to aid in regulatory compliance.  Regulatory compliance monitoring and control of product flow throughout the supply chain is done using the international supply chain global standard (GS1). The system is able to certify and validate information in real-time. Through web services, integration with external certification system is also possible, such as with the Ministry of Agriculture’s certifications (MOA MyGAP/MyOrganic).

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The Mi-Trace intelligent end-to-end product traceability platform

Mi-Trace can track and trace goods along the distribution chain and identify where they were at what date/time. Consumers can check for a product’s authenticity by gaining access to its origin information, associated certificates and validity statuses. Authorities can also monitor a product’s movement, ‘health’ and status along its delivery route before it reaches its final destination. Consumers can retrieve product information by scanning the product barcode with smart phones or web browser to trace the origins of their purchased products, give their feedback or complaints, and see any alerts, if any, on the products.

Mi-Trace will alert the user if there are any detected anomalies or changes in the product status as raised by the authorities; this establishes Mi-Trace as a single point of reference that backs product credibility with reliable information. Also, based on the data entered into the system, it is able to calculate and give early warning on potential risk and fraud to the product owner and authorities.

*Innovation, illustrations and drawings are covered and protected under several patents

Business Benefits
The king of fruit, durian, was selected to use the Mi-Trace system as it is already a premium product overseas especially in China; for instance, in 2012, frozen durian sales in China increased to RM1.6 million compared to RM1.1 million in 2011. The introduction of Mi-Trace will enable Malaysia to export up to four containers of frozen durians to China valued at RM2 million monthly. Malaysia’s durian export is made up of the D24 and D197 “Musang King” variants, which are considered a delicacy among the Chinese consumers. The Mi-Trace system is expected to push up demand for Malaysian frozen durians by 10 per cent.

The Future
In addition to frozen durians, Mi-Trace can be expanded to other premium agricultural produces or food products. The Malaysian Department of Agriculture has stated that there are plans to apply this system to other value-added export fruits like rambutans, jackfruits and pineapples. It can also be used in tracking and tracing Halal products. The same concept of Mi-Trace can be extended to include inventory or asset tracking and management systems, and document tracking systems to be used by other sectors.

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