Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Italian pasta maker Barilla uses IoT to provide supply chain visibility

Steve Rogerson
September 23, 2015
Italian pasta and sauce maker Barilla Group is demonstrating at Milan Expo how it is using the IoT to provide supply chain visibility for its products. By scanning the QR code on the back of limited edition Farfalle Pasta and Tomato and Basil Sauce packages, customers can find the story of the specific production batch, through a detailed analysis of all major phases of the supply chain.
Barilla worked with Cisco, Italian firm Penelope and NTT Data to implement a technology platform called Safety for Food (S4F). Powered by Penelope’s ValueGo software, the limited edition packages are at the Coop Supermarket of the Future, part of the Future Food District at Expo 2015 in Milan.
ValueGo has specific agri-food vertical features for compliance checking, tracking and tracing of all food information along the entire supply chain and for building a digital passport for food products.
"We’re extremely pleased that our ValueGo technology is helping power the Safety for Food platform,” said Francesco Marandino, managing director of Penelope. "By simplifying the process of accessing real-time supply chain information, ValueGo allows consumers, by reading a smart label, to know the full history of the products they purchase. With the help of ValueGo, Barilla, which has always made food safety and sustainability an important part of their operations, will be able to create a true digital identity card to identify and track the specific production lots of two widely-used consumer products.”
By scanning the QR code on the back of the Barilla packages, consumers can follow the path of the pasta they will eat from the ground to the grocer. For example, consumers can follow the package from the durum wheat field to learn where and how it was cultivated and harvested to the packaging and labelling of the finished product. The integrated tracking system helps combat counterfeiting in the food supply chain and gives consumers greater transparency and traceability of their food.
“Through this innovative initiative, we aim to not only provide greater transparency and safety in the supply chain, but to also give consumers a greater connection to their food,” said Giorgio Beltrami, director of Barilla. “By following the story of the specific batch of Barilla pasta or sauce they are enjoying, consumers can better correlate the food with the culture of the area in which it was born. As a family-owned company making quality Italian food for almost 140 years, it fills us with great pride to share that culture with our customers.”
Cisco has collaborated with non-governmental organisations, technology partners and experts in food supply chains to create the S4F initiative, which provides access to data from across the entire agricultural food chain. Food companies such as Barilla are taking the lead to use the data and analytics to break through information silos across their supply chains and provide consumers with greater transparency into the sources of their food.
“The internet of things changes the way we farm, produce, distribute and consume food, making it more transparent and therefore safer,” said Agostino Santoni, CEO of Cisco Italia. “The Safety for Food initiative aims to provide a global database of food products and greater traceability of agricultural food production, according to international standards on food safety, quality and origin of raw materials. We are thrilled to be part of such an important initiative that is improving consumers’ lives by using IoT technologies to help solve real world issues as important as food transparency and safety.”
The S4F platform implemented by Barilla is said to be a clear example of how the IoT has moved from vision to reality. By connecting people, places, processes, data and things, innovative companies are using digital technologies to manage complex industrial processes and improve consumers’ lives.
“Consumers today expect more transparent communications and social responsibility from the companies they do business with,” said Walter Ruffinoni, CEO of NTT Data in Italy. “Through the Safety for Food initiative, Barilla makes their products speak, telling the journey of the food supply chain. The fact that an Italian company like Barilla has embraced this project fills us with pride and demonstrates the importance of using digital technologies in new and innovative ways to not only improve transparency but also give consumers greater access to the information they desire when making purchasing decisions.”
Founded in Parma, Italy, in 1877 as a shop that produced bread and pasta, Barilla is today one of the main Italian food groups: world leader in the pasta market, continental European leader in pasta sauces, Italian leader in bakery products and Scandinavian leader in crispy breads. Barilla owns 30 production sites – 14 in Italy and 16 in the rest of the world – and exports to more than 100 countries.
Penelope is an Italian management consulting company specialising in marketing, strategic planning, business development, performance and change management, ICT technologies, and services.