Currently, food safety has become a worldwide concern and the cold chain monitoring a global phenomenon. As the middle class is growing in the BRIC nations and emerging economies, people around the world are increasingly demanding health foods. As a result, the focus is really high on delivering high quality and fresh products, and the management of cold chain has become even more crucial in the current socio-economic scenario. Cold chain has to overcome several challenges such as global transportation, rising costs, time management, keeping the food fresh, and keeping the supply on before a shortage takes place. In addition, the food suppliers and retailers need to adhere to the government food safety regulations. Such a complex nature of the food cold chain has forced the food suppliers and supply chain partners to implement latest cold chain monitoring technologies that allow real time monitoring of the food products and provide continuous update of their condition.
RFID has become the preferred technology in recent years for the food cold chain management. RFID not only tracks and traces the items in the entire supply chain, but are also able to provide the condition information of the food products on a real-time with the help of sensors embedded on RFID tags. This helps the users to get information about the assets every time they are moved and any problem areas or lapses can be identified.
RFID technology available at present is quite innovative and advanced. The passive RFID and battery assisted passive RFID tags come embedded with temperature and humidity sensors and have long read ranges. These are able to provide the real-time condition as well as location information of the food products in warehouses or stores, or during transit. With the help of the technology, food producers, suppliers, and retailers have been able to reduce wastage, perishable food spoilage, and food contamination, thereby leading to increased profitability and higher customer satisfaction. As a result, RFID is witnessing growth in usage in the cold chain monitoring space.
Worldwide farmers, food suppliers, and food retailers have been struggling to maintain the high quality of the fresh and perishable food items till the time it reaches the end users. Every year billions of tons of food are wasted due to lack of proper storage or improper cold chain management. Many a times contaminated food has made consumers to fall sick which have deeply impacted the brand value. In addition, there are strong food safety mandates by governments such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), European Union (EU) food regulations, and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulations that require the food producers, suppliers, and retailers to maintain traceability and condition history of the food products failing which they are heavily penalized.
New age RFID technology with advanced passive RFID tags, active RFID tags, RFID sensor tags, and RTLS solutions for real-time monitoring are the most advanced and extremely beneficial technology to overcome the challenges faced by the cold chain worldwide. The increasing use of cloud based platforms and the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) have enabled the users to continuously get updates on smartphones and tablets and alerts in case of any anomalies. This has made the tracking, tracing, and condition monitoring much easier and available end-to-end. Increasing machine to machine connectivity with the further growth of IoT would lead to smooth functioning of cold chain. RFID is already a growing technology in the food cold chain space and the sector offers plenty of growth opportunities for the technology. The technology providers need to bring in smarter solutions that are easier to deploy and cost effective to make the technology more viable for the cold chain sector.