Singapore start-up veriTAG's QR codes help to ensure safety and quality of food imports. (Image credit: veriTAG)
By Suresh Nair
Singapore cloud-tagging solutions provider veriTAG has developed a way to deal with the challenges of food safety and integrity, especially in countries with high food imports.
In late 2016, the company developed a digital sales platform, veriHUB, which helps food vendors centrally manage their exports through a cloud database using QR (Quick Response) tags. Essentially, when consumers purchase products through veriHUB, they are able to scan the tags on the products with a QR code reader and verify the products’ origin, as well as obtain past freight details and custom clearance information.
“Having such information on hand helps boost consumers’ confidence that the imported products, be it from Singapore and other regional countries, are genuine and of premium quality,” explained Ms Beryl Choo, Sales Director at veriTAG.
This solution is a welcome assurance to discerning and cautious consumers in countries like China – a global leader in the field of food imports and where ensuring food safety and authenticity can sometimes be a challenge.
So how did the solution come about? Ms Choo explained, “Our Chief Executive Officer Jason Lim used to work in the semi-conductor industry, which struggled with false product warranty claims. That was when he first got the idea to create the QR tags, to pre-empt false and re-claiming of warranties issues.”
About four years ago, Mr Lim saw an increasing need to build consumers’ knowledge and confidence in food products. It was then that he decided to pursue his idea to create the QR tags – but for the food industry. “People are willing to purchase electronic items at lower prices, but they do not want to compromise their health when buying food,” said Ms Choo.
In explaining how the QR code tags work, Ms Choo said, “They’re itemised and labelled on every item. Each tag has two different QR codes, which are linked to our system.” Consumers scan the first code on the label. They are then prompted to peel open the top corner of the product. Here, they will find another tag, which they will need to scan to void the previous tag. “This is a double-protection system to prevent copying and tampering of our tags,” she explained.
Through veriHUB, veriTAG’s clients are also able to trace their products’ movements and, at the same time, analyse various markets.
Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory is one of the start-up’s clients. The local manufacturer and supplier uses veriTAG’s QR code system for its Rock Sugar Sticks (a sweets product) that are exported to China.
The system helped Cheng Yew Heng through improved inventory tracking, swifter re-stocking of goods and analysis of sales data – all of which have contributed to 200% more exports to China.
“It was difficult to find a partner in China that could help us export our products to the country. veriTAG’s solution greatly eases the export process into China, enabling SMEs like us to manage sales more efficiently,” said Mr John Cheng, Director of Trade & Business Development at Cheng Yew Heng.
Going further together
veriTAG is currently focused on helping more Singapore food companies expand further into China, which has been identified as a sustainable market due to its increasing need for high-quality food imports.
In 2015, China revised its food safety law, imposing stricter controls on every step of food production, distribution, sale and recall. A key highlight of the revision is the need for record-keeping and registration mechanisms for food producers and importers. The law has also been expanded to cover online food platforms.
This is where veriTAG believes its solution can play a key role, by helping Singapore food producers and importers meet China’s requirement for more transparent processes and information, and successfully expand into the market.
“Our solution, which is pre-approved under IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority)’s SMEs Go Digital programme, enables us to also collect data, which can help local SMEs plan their sales and marketing activities overseas,” Ms Choo said. “We are working closely with IMDA to help local SMEs open their business channels internationally.”
She added, “Another agency that we are working closely with is International Enterprise Singapore; we are trying to synergise our knowledge and platform to also help Singapore’s logistics industry gain a better foothold in China.”
According to Ms Choo, veriTAG’s solution is unique in that, it provides value-add to both the company’s clients and end-consumers, resulting in a win-win situation for all.
More than 50 such digital solutions have been pre-approved by IMDA, which can help SMEs improve their operational efficiency and enhance customers’ experience.
For more information about pre-approved solutions, SMEs can contact the nearest SME Centre.