The Spice Route, the sea route discovered by the Portuguese in the 15th century that drove trade up to the Maluku Islands, represents centuries of history, events and achievements by peoples and cultures. Men have gone a long way since then.
To be able to preserve the edibility and nutritional value of food over time, thus preventing its accidental alteration, has now become a priority for the agricultural food industry and a sensitive issue on governments’ agendas.
An example for all: in 2011 the Obama administration, with the Food Safety Modernization Act, established strict control measures on the traceability of food throughout the supply chain.
What makes the Modernization Act interesting is its sharp sense of urgency. On the one hand, there are deadlines that food producers and transport companies must meet; on the other hand, there are consumers, with one person out of six (about 48 million) getting sick every year from food bought at supermarkets. According to the data released by disease control and prevention centres, 128,000 of these “food victims” are hospitalised while 3,000 die*.
Therefore, to update processes with data-driven technologies and tools has become necessary, if not vital, for all food chain operators. From collection points to processing facilities, from storage warehouses up to distribution points: the end-to-end monitoring and traceability ensured, for example, by intelligent tags, barcodes, RFID technology and its evolutions, allow us to quickly identify the exact moment in the food chain when food may have become contaminated or to optimise the stock replenishment lead time based on the computerised analysis of the demand flows for a given product.
From the Spice Route to the IoT, much progress has been made: the sea to cross is no longer made of salt, rather of data, and the secret to trace the new route is to be able to interpret such data to the best and in the shortest possible time.