Using AI to track meat from paddock to plate
Global meat consumption has increased by 64% over the last 20 years, with Australia becoming the world’s third-largest beef exporter. Increasing demand has created more discerning consumers who want to know the origin and quality of their meat, to determine if it has been safely and ethically sourced. Food labelling laws are also facing more scrutiny, with producers expected to provide more transparency regarding ingredients. JBS Australia has been working with Sydney-based start-up Lumachain on an AI, IoT and blockchain-based solution in response to the challenge. In collaboration with CSIRO, Lumachain is developing a solution using Microsoft technologies to provide a data trail from paddock to plate for the industry and consumers.
“The end-to-end transparency that this trial is demonstrating has potential for not only Australia’s meat producers, but the entire food chain. For consumers, Lumachain’s solution provides the rich information that they want, giving them peace of mind about what they are feeding their family for dinner,” said Brent Eastwood, CEO of JBS Australia.
JBS begins capturing key data from the moment a steer arrives at its processing facilities, using AI and blockchain to keep track of meat and food as it is processed, packaged and loaded into refrigerated trucks. The process of testing and recording the temperature inside delivery vans will be automated, while contractual and compliance data regarding temperature and humidity is recoded on a blockchain with IoT sourced data. This is used to confirm that those conditions are being met during transportation. Readings outside of prescribed limits appear in the blockchain, prompting remedial action.
Steven Worrall, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia, said: “Lumachain was one the first Australian start-ups to take part in our world-renowned ScaleUp program in Sydney. The trial Lumachain now has underway with JBS Australia demonstrates how Microsoft Azure-based services — AI, IoT and blockchain — can increase the amount of data and insight that is available up and down the food supply chain.”
Tackling the challenge of food security and quality while delivering transparency in food supply chains is essential, and can be a competitive advantage for Australia. Microsoft Azure’s global footprint and scalability will enable the solutions developed in Australia to be deployed anywhere.
Mike Zimmerman, a partner at Main Sequence Ventures, which manages the CSIRO Innovation Fund and is the lead investor in Lumachain, said: “In the future we will be able to extend these solutions using additional Azure cognitive services. Supply chains all over the world are ripe for transformation and disruption, and this trial with JBS Australia demonstrates the impact that could have.”
Lumachain has also developed a prototype smartphone app, crafted using Microsoft PowerApps, which displays details about the product, its journey, its provenance and the processor, providing end-to-end transparency. The data could eventually be available for consumers, or through interactive displays in retail outlets, providing information at the point of sale.
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