The Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano (CFPR) has formed a partnership with Dutch/French consortium Kaasmerk Matec and USA-based p-Chip Corporation to launch a line of food-safe and secure traceability digital labels for its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheels.

The new technology will deliver previously unseen levels of traceability, inventory tracking and control, product authentication, quality assurance testing, product serialization, and consumer safety, they claim.

Since 2002, a casein label with a unique and sequential alphanumeric code is applied to each Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel. Now p-Chip is launching a line of secure, digital tracking labels for the industry.

CFPR is breaking new ground by embedding these p-Chip micro transponders into 2D codes, QR codes, and/or data-matrix codes. The result is a food-safe digital tag that takes CFPR’s food safety and security a step beyond the government requirement.

Kaasmerk Matec and p-Chip partnered to complete this innovation program for a digital device integrated into the casein label, an industry-standard, protein-based type of food/cheese identification method.

The innovation combines food-safe Casein labels with the p-Chip micro transponder—a blockchain crypto-anchor that creates a digital ‘twin’ for physical items. This scannable new food tag is smaller than a grain of salt and highly durable, delivering next-generation visibility and traceability according to the developers.

“Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the world’s oldest and most famous cheeses, and it is a product that symbolizes Italian produce,” said Nicola Bertinelli, president of CFPR. “Since the establishment of our Consortium in 1934, we have worked to convey the value of our product globally and distinguish it from similar-sounding products on the market that do not meet our strict requirements for production and area of origin.

“By being the first to incorporate these secure digital labels onto our cheese wheels, we can continue to ensure consumer safety, bringing the traceability and the authentication of our products to meet industry 4.0 technological targets.”

“We’re pleased to partner with leading global brand CFPR, to bring world-class, disruptive tracing technology to the food industry,” said Joe Wagner, CEO of p-Chip Corporation.

“By integrating p-Chip micro transponders into Casein tags, CFPR can better control its inventory, protect and differentiate its products against look and sound-alike brands and have access to unmatchable track-and-trace technology to protect itself in the case of recalls or other issues. I look forward to working with CFPR as they realize the full potential this technology holds for their business.”

Over the past two years, the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano has conducted extensive testing of the p-Chip/Kaasmerk Matec casein label and approved its technical and food-safe use for the authentication and digital traceability of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In 2020 3.94 million wheels worth $2.35bn were produced. But CFPR believes the value of fake parmesan is almost $2bn.

“For more than 100 years, we’ve worked with artisan cheese producers to deliver casein cheese marks that provide an invaluable level of protection for their recipes,” said Winus Sloot, managing director of Kaasmerk Matec.

“We are pleased to collaborate with p-Chip to develop this smart digital label that will track and trace these bulk cheeses from start to finish, providing additional protection to both CFPR and consumers, as the label is highly resistant to tampering.”

The new smart digital food labels are being added to 100,000 CFPR bulk cheese wheels in the second quarter of 2022. This represents the final phase of large-scale testing before evaluating the possibility of extending this technology to the entire production of Parmigiano Reggiano.

This article was created in collaboration with AIPIA (the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association). Packaging Europe and AIPIA are joining forces to bring news and commentary about the active and intelligent packaging landscape to a larger audience. To learn more about this partnership, click here.