Arc-net seeks to capitalise on traceability demand

Dr Richard Steevens, left, and Kieran Kelly, of arc-net

Arc-net is seeking to capitalise on the demand for traceability after receiving a £2m investment.

Dr Richard Steeves, founder of Synergy Health PLC, a medical hygiene business, is making the investment in the Belfast-headquartered specialist in food chain traceability and analytics.

Arc-net and Dr Steeves, who becomes chairman of the company, met through a mutual friend in mid-2016.

The firm was founded by Northern Ireland entrepreneur Kieran Kelly in 2014 and has since opened offices in Edinburgh and San Francisco.

Arc-net employs 20 people and plans to increase the team to 50 with roles in software development, data analytics and sales and marketing.

The firm added it intends to develop the system to cover US requirements and then globally.

Tracking from A to B

Kieran Kelly, CEO of arc-net, which has had smaller investors previously, explained how it works.

“Once an animal is born, we utilise a specific RFID ear tag to identify and track the animal along with its movements and interactions," he told FoodQualityNews. 

"During the tagging of the animal we capture a sample of DNA which is recorded against the ID and dispatched to a lab for independent verification and authentication. All interactions and movements are recorded against the arc-net Blockchain and verified by supply chain members.

“When a consumer scans or interacts with a pack via a smartphone they receive specific information in relation to the product which can be customised to show the farm, breed, country of origin, producer, distributor and sell by date.

"Additional information can be delivered depending on the retailer and producer requirements, for example, organic, outdoor reared etc."

Kelly said tags have been used for identifying animals for many years.

"We can customise the volume of data captured to provide product analytics which support cost savings and process automation. arc-net believe utilise advanced tags will support advancements across the protein sector and include, dairy, fish, red and white meat," he said.

“The food and manufacturing industry is not familiar with Blockchain. Its capabilities provide a unique offering to those organisations and supply chain members seeking to protect their brands and ensure consumers gain access to an authentic and traceable product.

"As the supply web becomes more complex, accountability and control become the defining factors. Many historic traceability and supply chain platform are no longer suitable for the demands of the members and their consumers.”

When asked about the potential to cheat the system, Kelly said: “We are working with forward thinking honest providers and if they don’t want to put the chip in we wouldn’t work with those firms.

“We work with companies seeking to protect their brand. Consumers are creating the demand, they want to know more about food, authenticity and animal welfare. Millennials are creating a shift in consumer buying and are interacting with their foods to ensure they are authentic and contain the correct ingredients.”    

Its cloud based platform enables food producers, brand owners and retailers to ensure customers of the provenance and authenticity of products using the arc-net Blockchain and digital DNA.

DNA sampling is used to verify the food source and Blockchain tracks products along the supply chain.

Data and supply chain mapping is used to verify products as they go across the supply web. All actions and activates are boded to the arc-net Blockchain and verified by its members and consumers.

Quality validation

Kelly said it gives companies and brand owners the ability to have independent validation of their brand and products authenticity and traceability.

“The arc-net platform provides an increase in information flow across the entire supply web, which helps support analytics, traceability, authenticity and compliance all based on the Blockchain platform,” he said.

“We see significant demand for what we have to offer and this investment will put us in a very strong position to capitalise on that.”

Dr Steeves said he was ‘excited’ to support arc-net on food supply chain security using novel technology.

“I also find the social aspect of arc-net’s service compelling, working with the food industry to improve transparency and authenticity,” he added.

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