The food and beverage industry is undergoing constant changes, driven by consumer demands for safe, sustainable, and high-quality food. Customers increasingly want transparency about the origins and production methods of the food. This trend is reshaping the sector, pushing it towards innovative solutions that ensure both safety and quality.

In the United States, regulations require food companies to maintain detailed records of key events in the supply chain (such as growing, receiving, transforming, and shipping) for certain high-risk foods. This measure, mandated by FSMA 204, aims to expedite the identification and removal of contaminated foods, thereby reducing foodborne illnesses and deaths, with mandatory compliance starting in January 2026. Administratively, regulations are becoming stricter regarding the traceability of fresh foods. While the United States is leading the way, regions such as the EU are gradually adopting these practices. The focus is shifting toward solutions that improve public health and market equity through increased traceability and quality assurance.

In this article we will explore how RFID technology is changing the food supply chain. We will dive into the key features of RFID tags, explore the challenges facing the food industry, and showcase innovative solutions that are paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable food supply chain.

RFID in Food: The Importance of Tagging Food and Key Features

Implementing an RFID tag in the food supply chain offers significant improvements in traceability, inventory management, and logistics. These tags allow for tracking at every point in the supply chain, from producer to end consumer, facilitating the identification of origin, processing, expiration, and movement of products.

This capability not only speeds up the removal of expired products but also ensures precise and efficient inventory control, reducing food waste and ensuring optimal product availability. Additionally, RFID technology streamlines logistical processes by eliminating manual scans, reducing delivery times, enhancing operational efficiency, and achieving advanced levels of inventory accuracy. 

The ability to obtain specific data for each product through RFID tags helps consumers have a more reliable picture of the origin and handling of products, thus fostering confidence in the food they purchase and strengthening the relationship between companies and their customers.

Key challenges for RFID tags in food

Some of the challenges faced by the food industry are:

  • Interference in wet environments where fresh food is located
  • Contact with water that can affect tag performance
  • Extreme temperatures that require specialized tags and protection strategies.

Addressing these external challenges is crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of RFID tags in the food industry. To meet these needs, Checkpoint has developed Leveche tag, a component of their RFreshID food waste solution, aimed at reducing food waste by 50%.

This tag addresses the main challenges of the industry, as it is certified by EECC for use in microwaves and by ISEGA for use in indirect contact with food, creating a safe environment both for retailers and consumers. Additionally, it is designed to resist interference from liquids or moisture commonly encountered with fresh foods, ensuring an optimal performance of the RFID technology.

Applications of RFID in the food industry

The implementation of RFID technology in food with solutions like RFreshID, which covers the entire process from production to sale in stores, allows for optimizing efficiency and accuracy at every stage:

  • During production, RFID tags are applied and automatically encoded in products, ensuring complete traceability from the source.
  • From manufacturing to distribution centers and stores, the use of RFID facilitates correct and automated shipping processes, ensuring products reach their destination in a timely and error-free manner.
  • Once in stores, product reception is accurately done through RFID technology, speeding up the process and ensuring efficient inventory management in real time.

In conclusion, implementing RFID tags in the food supply chain not only improves inventory management, traceability, and logistics but also contributes to reducing food waste and increasing consumer confidence. This technology offers benefits for both companies and consumers by streamlining processes, ensuring product quality and safety, and promoting more sustainable practices in the food industry.