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Commercial application of supply chain integrity and shelf life systems

Did you know there are several benefits to tracking product integrity and traceability?

Project start date: 06 April 2020
Project end date: 15 September 2020
Publication date: 18 September 2020
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Lamb, Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (4.4 MB)


The issue of product integrity has been subject to a large amount of attention by meat industry bodies, researchers and service providers. Not only does product integrity underpin Australia’s access to red meat markets but new technologies and systems present opportunities to further improve Australia’s product integrity.

This project involved extensive research and analysis of prior work, together with engagement with industry stakeholders, to develop five case studies and provide detailed analysis and specific examples of the application of integrity systems to industry.

This project provided an independent assessment of the product integrity issue as it applies to the Australian red meat industry. It highlighted strategic issues for consideration, including detail around which products, as well as which markets and market channels, would benefit most from investment in integrity systems.


The main objectives of this project were to:

  • explain the theory behind which products are worthy of supply chain protections (integrity and assurance systems) and how supply chain participants can be engaged in providing value to the consumer
  • document commercial case studies to showcase existing traceability and shelf life systems and learnings from their implementation.

Key findings

  • The industry views on the need for investment in enhanced supply chain integrity systems are at odds with those of researchers and technology/service providers.
  • Meat industry business operators strongly associate supply chain integrity systems with 'traceability', which they believe is already more than adequate in the Australian meat industry.  
  • Supply chain integrity technologies are highly complex and constantly evolving with implementation challenges for both meat businesses and providers.
  • Despite these challenges, there are justifications beyond just product integrity and traceability for investment, including:
    • improved supply chain management
    • reduced risk of fraud
    • extended shelf life
    • reduced operating and wastage costs
    • accommodating rising retailer expectations
    • access to immediate market feedback.

Benefits to industry

This project provides a considered analysis of the key issues regarding product integrity systems that will elevate the industry knowledge base and be useful in informing future business and industry investment and strategies on product integrity.

The learnings will also bridge the gap that currently exists between meat supply chain businesses and technology service providers on the commercial applications of emerging technologies relating to product integrity and supply chain management.

MLA action

Based on the findings of this project, MLA is:

  • arranging and designing supply chain integrity pilot studies
  • considering consumer studies
  • considering the validation of the extent of fraud.

MLA is also actively promoting the adoption of cold chain management systems.

Future research

Based on the results of the project, recommendations for future research or development include:

  • validation of the fraud issue and preparation of an industry response
  • study of the feasibility of implementing industry wide integrity enhancements
  • promoting cold chain integrity and its impact on shelf life
  • bridging the gap between the red meat industry and technology/service providers
  • understanding of what integrity systems represent for consumers and what would stimulate their willingness to pay more for them.

Supply Chain Integrity Special Podcast

Interested in knowing more? Check out this interview with researchers David McKinna and Catherine Wall, where the project learnings are highlighted. Lachie Hart of Stockyard Beef and Lachlan Graham of Argyle Foods Group also chat about their experiences in this space and their recommendations. Ian Jenson, Manager - Market Access Science and Technology, is also on-hand to provide context around cold chain management and recommendations in this area.

Red meat traceability information hub

Red meat traceability information hub

MLA’s Red meat traceability information hub provides detailed traceability information including:

  • the latest news
  • case studies
  • funding opportunities.

Email MLA to gain access to the hub.


More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: McKinna et al.