Traceability Solutions for the Dairy Supply Chain

There are some hot issues grappling the dairy industry. Setting up a safe, hygienic, transparent and economic dairy supply chain is a major challenge in the food and agriculture industry. Dairy traceability with blockchain technology should ensure transparency in the supply chain and assure a zero adulterated safe product.
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Consumer Confidence in the Dairy industry has been questionable…. 

Adulteration and contamination of milk and its products 

Unhygienic milk handling procedures 

Animal abuse  

Overgrazing 

Demand for sustainable and ethical produce 

Lack of Transport Infrastructure 

These are some of the hot issues grappling the dairy industry. Setting up a safe, hygienic, transparent and economic dairy supply chain is a major challenge in the food and agriculture industry

Milk and milk products are widely consumed all over the world. The processed milk comes from the cattle, buffaloes, goats and sheep and the products include butter, cheese and yogurt. The value of the dairy market is estimated to be about 720 billion US dollars with milk standing 3rd amongst the other agriculture commodities. 

The dairy sector is prone to scandals due to contamination and adulteration and food safety is a major challenge. The 2008 Chinese milk scandal was a significant food safety incident in the world. The dairy supply chain that carries this staple food from the farm to the fridge is very complex and vulnerable to food safety risks.

The Grass to Glass Story has a shaky path

Milk is a nutritious food which has a short shelf life and is a breeding ground for bacterial pathogens. Milk processes help in stretching the shelf life and thereby reduce foodborne illness. Production and processing are the two main stages in the dairy supply chain followed by storage and distribution. The dairy supply chain is a long and complex one with its own challenges. 

Source: Freepik 

Production

An estimated of 90% of milk is produced by small hold dairy farmers. The dairy animals are fed on fodder, residue of crops and grass. Dairy farming encompasses breeding, rearing and welfare of cattle for production of milk. The principles of breeding help in milk production. Pasture is the natural feed for cattle. Other feeds are also supplemented. Herd management and animal welfare is very important. Disease outbreaks are common and proper veterinary services are mandatory.

Challenges faced 

  • Breeding practices increase production but the farmers are ignorant of the scientific practices, though the knowledge on breeds is high. 
  • Dairy producers have to adhere to good agriculture practices to realize better yield. 
  • Fluctuation in availability of feeds is a major concern 
  • Over grazing leads to deforestation affecting the environment. 
  • Animal health is a primary challenge with high morbidity rates. Establishing resistance to disease and veterinary services are critical.  
  • The milking hygiene is also very important and the feeds and water decide the quality of milk being produced. 

Collection

The producers are usually dispersed in rural areas and the logistics of linking them to markets is important. Considering the perishable nature of milk, streamlined collection and transportation of milk is vital. Milk is usually transported in cans or tankers and collected at specified collection centers. Milk collectors transport milk to processing centers, local markets, shops or hotels.

Challenges faced 

  • Establishing collection centers is not viable because the milk produced is low and production sites are located in remote areas. 
  • Lack of cold storage facilities 
  • Milking Hygiene conditions are bad. 
  • Transportation costs are high.

Processing

Milk that arrives at processing units are stored in bulk chillers at a temperature below 40 F. The milk is then subjected to a series of quality checks to ensure that the milk has been cooled and is bacteria free. It is tested for milk fat, protein and tested for adulterants and residues. The milk is rejected if it does not satisfy the quality checks.

Pasteurization involves a heat treatment process that kills the pathogens in milk and increases its shelf life. Homogenization of milk is carried out to reduce the size of fat and give the milk the color and texture. Milk can be further processed to give the other byproducts like butter, cheese and yoghurt.  

Challenges faced 

  • Milk processing plants are underutilized as the raw milk supply is less. 
  • Lack of knowledge of processing technologies. 
  • Unhygienic conditions prevail in processing plants. 
  • The byproducts have to be further tested for regulatory requirements. 
  • Quality and food safety is very critical for milk and milk products. 
  • Vulnerable to adulteration and contamination. 

Package and Distribution

The homogenized and pasteurized milk are packaged into cartons and distributed to supermarkets and the end consumers. The cold storage conditions need to be maintained. The byproducts like cheese and yoghurt are often packed in customized packages depending on extra flavors added.

Challenges faced 

  • Transportation disruptions are a huge problem, considering the perishable nature of milk. 
  • Lack of cold storage facilities. 
  • Management of the different value-added products with efficient safety practices. 

Summing up, the challenges due to food contamination, environmental pollution and nutrient degradation pose critical health hazards. 

Traceability solutions for the Dairy supply chain 

The increased requirement of dairy consumers has made the industry more complex and the demand for food safety and sustainability has fueled the necessity of transparency in the value chain.

Blockchain powered traceability solutions have transformed the agri sector giving end to end visibility in these supply chains. The ability to trace the movement of milk and its products from production to consumption is known as dairy traceability. Blockchain also enables to create a trust level in the stakeholders who get onto this common platform. 

Read how Milk Mantra integrated Blockchain traceability to solve the food  safety challenges in the Dairy industry 

The journey starts from the dairy farmer, the collection center, the bulk milk chiller, the processing plant, distribution to the market or the end consumer. 

  • It starts with the dairy farmer and the other stakeholders that get registered in the blockchain network. They are assigned a unique digital identity in the network 
  • Farmers update information about the location of the farms, the breed of cows, medication used and the information on the feeds. The health information is also updated in the network. Milking data is also captured and recorded. 
  • The milk is transported in cars or trucks with the required temperature control to the collection centers. The data of milk collected is recorded mapping to the concerned farmer. Unique Batch ids are created to process the product further. 
  • The collected milk is transported to bulk chillers where they are chilled at a temperature below 40 F. A number of quality checks are carried out and recorded. The necessary certificates can also be uploaded into the system to prove the quality and its adherence to standards. 
  • The location of processing units, the amount of milk delivered in lots, the processing environment details like temperature is recorded. The data related to homogenization and pasteurization are recorded. The product normally gets a unique batch identity when it leaves this place. This keeps tracking process in place in the event of recalls or disease outbreaks 
  • Certifying agencies and regulators can also be onboarded to the platform as digital entities. They can check for the various quality aspects provided by the farmers and the standards adhered to during the processing of milk. The information regarding the inputs which could be related to the feeds, chemicals used, animal health are verified to prove credibility of the end product. 
  • The processed milk is finally packaged and ready for distribution. QR codes are generated for these packages and labelled accordingly to give the consumer a final digital identity to the product. 
  • The milk packets are distributed to end consumers, retailers, hotels and supermarkets. Scanning the QR code showcases the farm to fork journey of milk. 
  • Some of the processed milk is sent for further processing units to realize the other products like butter, ghee, cheese and yogurt. These individual lots are then identified through different batch ids for easy tracking. 

The importance of Blockchain Traceability in the Dairy industry 

The various challenges in this dairy industry along with the grievous food scandals have mandated the requirement of transparency and traceability in the dairy value chain. Digitization of this dairy supply chain with blockchain technology should address these issues and gain consumer trust. The challenge for the future is to prove the credibility of the product and assure the consumer of quality milk.  

Read how Blockchain is revolutionizing the food industry 

The benefits of dairy traceability with blockchain can be summed up as 

  • Food Safety 

Every batch of milk can be tracked and in the event of food contamination, the source can be identified and the associated batch recalled. 

  • Food wastage 

The granularity of the tracking process helps to pinpoint the contaminated milk batches and avoid mass recalls, saving on food wastage and costs. 

  • Collaborative platform 

The distributed, decentralized ledger allows the farmers, cooperatives, manufacturers and brands to share the information on a single platform and ensure trust in the network. 

  • Transparency to the Consumer 

Consumer is assured of a quality product by scanning the QR code to see the entire journey of milk from the farm to the fridge. It would build trust in the consumer and they would be ready to pay a premium for this product. 

  • Regulatory compliance 

Blockchain facilitates certifications and verification of processes, adhering to standards and this helps to prove compliance in domestic and export markets. 

Splash the goodness of Milk with Blockchain powered Traceability with our dairy supply chain traceability and be assured of zero adulteration milk. Our solution can trace the milk and its products and provide the 100% food traceability 

Check out the solutions we provided for Milk Mantra to counter the challenges of their dairy supply chain. 

Copyright © 2021 Blockchain for Food Safety, Traceability and Supplychain Transparency

TraceX Technologies is proud to raise $1 Million in Pre Series A funding led by NABARD backed NABVENTURES Fund.

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