Focus Group meeting in Italy

On 2 December 2020, from 10 a.m. to 11.45 a.m., it has been carried out MED Food TTHubs Focus Group in Italy. The event has been co-organised and co-leaded by the two Italian partners of the project: TECNOALIMENTI S.C.p.A. and Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A.

The Italian Focus group has been constituted by 9 external Stakeholders and 1 Auditor in representation of farmers, food producers, standard organisation, technology providers, Academia, RTOs, and Institutions. All together have been able to provide a good representativeness of Italian food supply-chain.

A brief introduction provided the rules for participation, the Agenda, the Focus group objectives and the Project’s presentation. This was followed by a round table to allow each participant to introduce their organisation to each others. Then, one-by-one, the participants were called to answer to two Questions related to Traceability.

Apart from the different perception of the term “traceability” and the meaning attributed according to their own experience and point of view, we recognize Italian agri-food players have very heterogeneous characteristics (e.g. from the small farm in the marginal mountain territory, to the Cooperative and the large associations of more producers/farmers; from the small family-run food producer, to the branch of an important multinational). Consequently, the application/implementation of traceability has not been applied in a homogeneous way from Reg. 178/2002 to date.

There has been a gradual process of digitalisation, moving from paper of 90s/2000s to growing digitalised systems of today. Technological improvements have been done both in terms of procedures and tools at disposal (e.g. barcode, RFID, QR code). For sure the approach to traceability by companies has changed: from law obligation to opportunity, involving not only the Quality Assurance department but all the other Company’s areas and departments. Technology is there; however, there are still some problems to be solved: low technological adoption, lack of integration, lack of technical knowledge, doubts in terms trust, transparency and data sharing. Some skills need necessarily to be developed inside the company or acquired from outside. The role of technology providers is thus considered important and useful to allow companies to assess different solutions, understand the usefulness and identify the right solutions for their specific needs (all participants agreed on the fact that the new traceability/authentication/anti-counterfeiting solutions must be targeted/customised). In terms of ‘costs’, consensus was not reached: while some declare to be available in incurring higher costs related to the application of technologies, others argue that there is still a problem of costs.

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