A pilot scheme has been launched by organic body the Soil Association to help shoppers track where their food has come from using their smartphones.

The pilot is currently limited to Eversfield Organics bacon sold in As Nature Intended stores, but it is planned to extend the project should it prove successful.

The pilot, which is the first of its kind in the UK, uses near-field communications (NFC) technology, the same than is used on London Underground to enable commuters to pay for journeys by swiping their phones.

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Using NFC-enabled smartphones (no app required), shoppers can now track a product’s journey throughout the food chain.

They are also able to see information regarding the organic certification’s validity, the criteria met by the product, a map of its journey and even photographs from the farm of origin.

The pilot is currently limited to Eversfield Organics bacon © Soil Association

Transparency

The Soil Association says the issue of food transparency is increasingly in the spotlight, pointing to a recent Morrison’s survey in which 70% of respondents objected to fake farm labels.

Another study by QA Research showed eight out of 10 respondents wanted to know which farm system was used to produce their meat and dairy products. 

Liz Bowles, head of farming at the Soil Association, said: “This technology will enable consumers to have much higher levels of trust in the food they buy as they can literally see where it has come from.

“For organic farmers it will enable them to be visible to their customers and offer them opportunities to develop their businesses using this technology to communicate more directly with consumers.”

The project has been developed by the Soil Association in partnership with start-up tech firm Provenance.

Similar, but larger projects are being developed by the Casino Group in France – the country’s largest retailer – while IBM is working with a range of international food companies to improve traceability in their supply chains using NFC technology.