The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium (Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano) has teamed up with Dutch cheesemark designer Kaasmerk Matec and American developer of digital tracking tech p-Chip Corporation to add safe and smart digital labels to improve the traceability of its cheese wheels.
P-Chip creates trackable silicon microchips, the same size as a grain of salt, used to determine a product’s authenticity, as well as its origin in the supply chain. According to p-Chip, their micro transponder cannot be replicated or counterfeited, can survive between temperatures of -200C to 500C, is resistant to microwave irradiation, and is not affected by solvents or reagents.
The technology will allow the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium to prove the provenance and authenticity of its product to wholesalers and consumers alike, and will make it harder for fraudsters to sell counterfeit versions of the Italian cheese.
Nicola Bertinelli, President of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, said: “As one of the world’s oldest and most famous cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is a symbol of high-quality Italian products. Since the Consortium was founded in 1934, we have aimed to convey the value of our product globally and distinguish it from similar-sounding products on the market that do not meet our strict requirements for production and area of origin.
“By being the first to incorporate these secure digital labels onto our cheese wheels, we can continue to ensure consumer safety, bringing the traceability and authentication of our products to meet industry 4.0 technological targets.”
The partnership between Kaasmerk Matec and p-Chip has resulted in the development of a micro transponder – a blockchain crypto anchor that can be imbedded into 2D QR code labels or a smaller Data Matrix code. These microchips are then inserted into a casein label which is then placed on the cheese wheels.
Joe Wagner, CEO of p-Chip Corporation, said: “We’re pleased to partner with a leading global brand as the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano to bring world-class, disruptive tracing technology to the food industry.
“By integrating p-Chip micro transponders into casein tags, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium can better control its inventory and protect and differentiate its products against look and sound-alike brands and have access to unmatchable track-and-trace technology to protect itself in the case of recalls or other issues. I look forward to working with Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano as they realise the full potential this technology holds for their business.”
Winus Sloot, Managing Director of Kaasmerk Matec, added: “For more than 100 years, we’ve worked with artisan cheese producers to deliver casein cheesemarks that provide an invaluable level of protection for their recipes, helping to safeguard the passion and craftsmanship they bring to production of their cheeses.
“We are pleased to collaborate with p-Chip to develop this smart digital label that will track and trace the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium’s bulk cheeses from start to finish, providing additional protection to both the Consortium as well as consumers, as the label is highly resistant to tampering.”
The organisation has tested the new labels for two years to ensure they are fit for purpose and plans to add them to around 100,000 cheese wheels during the summer months of 2022. If successful, it will begin to implement the digital smart labels onto all future products.
Since 2002, the Consortium has used casein labels stamped with unique alphanumeric codes to verify the authenticity of its cheese. There is no indication that it intends to stop using this method.
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