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Assuring Authentic Seafood with Digital Certificates


The seafood supply chain is long and complicated, generating massive amounts of data. It also includes many stakeholders, including harvesters, processors, retailers, governmental agencies, and consumers hungry for more information about where and how their food is produced.

Tracking the vast amounts of data using enhanced traceability tools can help ensure food products are authentic and sustainably produced. Enhanced traceability is already well established and delivering many business benefits. It can:

Avoid species substitution: Consumers can feel confident that the wild grouper they ordered isn’t actually a macadamia nut-encrusted generic whitefish.

Ensure freshness and reduce spoilage and waste: Retailers can automatically reject fresh fillets that exceed the stated four-to-six-day out-of-water limit. This will save them on spoilage costs and save consumers from a “too fishy” experience.

Connect directly with consumers: Retailers and producers can tell the story behind their products. With just a couple of clicks on a smartphone, a consumer standing at the seafood counter can learn that “this fresh Keta salmon was harvested three days ago by the Yup’ik Eskimo using dip nets at the mouth of the Yukon River …”

Combating Seafood Fraud

Unlike traditional food traceability tools that look “backward” in time and are used primarily for recordkeeping and product recalls, enhanced traceability systems offer retailers near real-time monitoring of their supply chain. Among the latest technology developments are digital certificates, which can help combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud. Digital certificates can verify data at each step of the supply chain to ensure that a food product meets certain required rules. For instance, the certificates can be used to ensure that fish came from a legal vessel, that the harvest date is accurate and that the species is correct. If an item meets the stated rules, the certificate remains with the product. However, if the weight or species or harvester — or any other criteria — aren’t met, according to the requirements, the certificate is removed.

In addition to helping food retailers increase profitability, enhanced traceability ensures that vendors meet environmental goals and puts key product information directly into consumers’ handheld devices.

Enhanced traceability tools can and should be used to automatically monitor the supply chain and alert retailers and consumers to incidents of noncompliance.

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