The University of Tasmania has been awarded $455,000 to develop a new digital solution that will help promote and improve the traceability of exported Australian fruit.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the funding was part of the Australian Government’s $7 million Traceability Grants Program.

“This is yet another example of innovation that reinforces and promotes Australia’s reputation as a producer of clean, green and safe food.

“The cloud-based technology will allow easy tracing of Australian produce along the supply chain, making it simpler to extract information that supports its authenticity and compliance.

“The app will also include a function that will further support the digital promotion of Australian fruit and vegetables overseas.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism and Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator Jonno Duniam said Tasmania is the leading export state for cherries.

“Tasmanian cherries have a reputation for being the best on the market, and Tasmanian brands are recognised in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“But being the best means others want to be like us, and sometimes they use unscrupulous methods to replicate Tasmanian fruit.

“This undermines the well-deserved reputation of Tasmania’s brand, and that’s why traceability technology is so important.”

According to Fruit Growers Tasmania, Tasmania exported nearly 2,360 tonnes of fruit last year, including nearly 1,800 tonnes of cherries, worth $35.5 million.

Tasmania accounted for 43 per cent of the national cherry exports, and Hong Kong and China were the main destinations.

Associate Professor Jiangang (Johnny) Fei from the Australian Maritime College was the lead applicant for the grant.

“We will develop a system that will allow two-way tracing of horticultural products along the supply chain, providing for streamlined extraction of information for compliance, food safety, and proof of provenance and authenticity.

“It allows retailers and consumers to check the authenticity of the package. This is achieved through the unique identity device attached to each package. The application allows a mobile device such as a smart phone to retrieve identity information of the package through Bluetooth technology.

“Consumers can check the provenance of the product they are purchasing through the unique ID given to the package. The application can serve as a digital marketing tool to promote the provenance story of the product and other products that may be of interest.”

The Traceability Grants Program will invest $7 million in grants over two rounds until June 2023.