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Hawaii Department Of Agriculture And Farm Bureau Use RFID To Track Produce

HAWAIIThe State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Farm Bureau have partnered to deploy a three-year pilot radio-frequency-identification (RFID) initiative. The Hawaii Produce Traceability initiative uses UPM Raflatac RFID inlays to track and trace fresh produce throughout the state's food supply chain. The initiative is designed to promote food safety by providing product visibility down to the farm or even field level. The RFID system provides detailed, real-time information that can be used to optimize the supply chain, enable recalls in less than an hour, and improve inventory control.

In the first phase, Lowry Computer Products developed an RFID solution leveraging hardware from Motorola and Symbol Technologies together with Globe Ranger system software. The system pairs waterproof labels with UPM Raflatac ShortDipole UHF inlays with the Lowry Computer Products' Fresh Harvest Solution. In doing so, it provides real-time supply-chain data showing when boxed produce is planted and harvested, what pesticides are used, and when and where RFID-tagged boxes are scanned. The data is automatically uploaded into a database, where it can be used by program participants. It is also available for public review at

Growers could participate via either slap-and-ship tagging or the use of a handheld RFID system. Boxed produce is read at the distribution center upon entry and exit of the physical facility and cold storage. Tags are read again at the retailers' point of entry, removal from cold storage, and at end of life. Both the distribution center and retailer use a fixed portal RFID reader. Participants can use gathered data to strengthen food-processing controls, increase cold chain visibility, reduce produce dwell time on shipping and receiving docks, and accelerate transportation times between trading partners. In the event of a food recall, growers can quickly identify if they are impacted.

State officials are considering enhancements to the next two phases of the project, such as deploying RFID-enabled cell phones to enable more farms to participate and implementing produce temperature tracking to reduce the threat of food spoilage. In addition, UPM Raflatac tag performance is currently being tested on shipments between Armstrong Produce and the Kaneohe, Hawaii Marine Base commissary. This important addition to the pilot program is in compliance with the Department of Defense RFID directives.

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