QR Codes: A Quick Reaction to a major problem?

QR codes have become and are still becoming a sought after on pack traceabilitytool, but what happens when the packaging gets removed?

Coming off a fast start in 2017, it’s good to see companies are starting to take measures to secure their supply in the ongoing battle against fraud and counterfeit. With recent news on alleged egg fraud happening in New Zealand or deliberate mislabelling of prawns in Australia amongst a slew of others. It’s good to see industry giants like Alibaba in partnership with Fonterra implementing a tracking system like QR codes to mitigate this risk, and responding to the very real threat it poses not only to those businesses but the wider implication fraud has on consumer health and reputations of countries of origin.

However, I want to focus on these technologies they are implementing, specifically packaging based methods of traceability. 

Quick Reaction codes or as we say in the biz, QR codes, are a neat label-based way that anyone with a smartphone (which is basically everyone) can use. Point. Scan. And voila, everything you need to know about that product is there. Its rapid, it’s handy and it’s available to everyone which could be why countries like China have seen the massive uptake of this technology. Did you know  approximately 650 million people a month in China use an app called ‘WeChat’ a social media type of platform that allows users to also scan QR codes to look for brands and make purchases, the article goes on to say:

“China’s WeChat has more than 600 million monthly active users. Every time the app is downloaded onto a mobile phone, so too is a QR code reader. This creates a shortcut for a user to link directly from an offline source to an online WeChat account, without the customer having to find and download a QR reader. It also eliminates the search process of looking for the brand in a Google or Baidu search."

But I want to pose to you, good reader and carer of our food, how accurate are the QR Codes it if something were to happen to the product inside the packaging?

Now I want to be uber clear to you, I commend any and all businesses that take measures to secure their supply chains. At the end of the day it’s about doing what’s right to those who enjoy your products. Heck, we use them at Oritain to instantly tell a story about the origin of the product so in that regard they perform great! But it’s the use of QR codes for a traceability mechanism I’m interested in.

The buck starts and stops with the packaging, once that’s removed, how can you tell that product is linked to that QR code? “What about mass serialisation?” I hear you say, where every individual unit gets its own code. Well, the same rules apply, once the packaging is removed from that product, how do you know that that product is still the same, or is from where it says it’s from?

Having a science-based technology can provide a way to plug those gaps especially when talking about origin. Oritain’s solutions to this question has provided businesses with a robust mechanism of traceability that relies on that actual product, not the packaging. And subsequently can be used in conjunction with the likes of QR code technology to tell the story of the origin of the product, providing a well-rounded traceability resolution.

By Mathew Bartlett | Posted: Thursday April 13, 2017