China infant formula traceability: Danone launches dual-QR service

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Aptamil baby formula pack with dual outer and inner QR codes part of Danone’s new ‘Track & Connect’ service ©Danone
Aptamil baby formula pack with dual outer and inner QR codes part of Danone’s new ‘Track & Connect’ service ©Danone

Related tags: China, Infant formula, Traceability, Danone

Danone is launching a new traceability service for its infant formula in China, followed by other Asia-Pacific markets as well as Australia and New Zealand throughout the year.

The service called Track & Connect is a combination of several technologies, which aims to offer consumers and retailers greater transparency on the farm-to-fork journey of the company’s infant formula.

David Boulanger, senior vice president of operations at Danone Specialised Nutrition told NutraIngredients-Asia​, “There is a growing appetite from consumers, and parents who want to know more about what is in the food they eat and what they give to their babies​,

We launched this service to provide the type of information that consumers want​.”

He explained the service is a combination of three technologies: serialisation (which is what makes the QR code unique), aggregation (ensuring traceability), and blockchain (to connect different transactions across the whole supply chain, including upstream and downstream).

Apart from product information, consumers will have access to personalised after-sales support and services for its baby formula brands including Aptamil, Karicare, Laboratoire Gallia and Nutrilon.

Dual-QR innovation

There are two unique QR codes, one outside the packaging which can be scanned any time before purchase, and one inside the packaging. The QR codes are printed in-house and laser marked on their infant formula packaging in its production facilities.

Boulanger told us while the research on the technology itself was impressive, the implementation of the technology was arduous. “We had to equip all our factories with this technology​.”

The outer QR code will provide information on the location, date and time the infant formula was produced in Danone’s factories.

The inner QR code found behind a tamper resistant seal can only be scanned once and will trigger a one-time message verifying its authenticity. “If somebody scans this code which has already been scanned, you will receive an alert. This prevents our product from being tampered​,” Boulanger said.

He added that the inner QR code will also allow consumers to connect with the brand for after-sales support and services, “such as nutrition experts who can give specific advice to feed your baby, access to health and nutritional mobile apps and information, useful ‘how to’ parenting videos, access to customer helplines or online e-commerce services​.”

For retailers, the service can provide further insights on consumer demand, preferences, and help with stock tracking and personalisation of offers, such as through identity and loyalty programs.

Markets

The Track & Connect service was first launched for Aptamil in November 2019. The service is being currently applied to Nutrilon in February this year, in China.

Boulanger told us: “We chose China as the first market to launch the service because parents (there) are eager to know more about their baby formula​.”

The service will be rolled out to Australia, New Zealand, Germany and France for all brands throughout the year.

Similarly, another infant formula brand, Frisco, manufactured by FrieslandCampina has also launched a TrackEasy service​ for its products exported to China last year.

Also using dual-QR codes, external QR codes are placed under the cans of Frisco’s Gold, Prestige, and Frisomum, with a second QR code placed inside the products.

According to Frisco, consumers can scan the product via social platform, WeChat and check for authenticity and information on milk collection, production process, quality auditing, packaging and export, “to help eliminate concerns about counterfeiting in China.​”

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