Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wine can now be traced by smartphone

A team of Waterloo-based inventors has developed a way to identify everything you ever wanted to know about a bottle of wine.

All it takes is a simple tap of a smartphone on a small tag on the bottle.

But when you tap, those who grew the grapes, made the wine and brought it to market might also be able to learn where and when you bought it and, perhaps, even when you use it.

This was one of more than a dozen innovative products and services described to about 120 people attending the annual meeting of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies at Guelph.

Dan Heitbohmer of Vinesource has been working for 16 years to custom build software for clients, most of them company startups.

He said wine makers are interested because about 100,000 new wines are launched every year, so they need something to distinguish themselves and stand out from the crowd,

He said 74 per cent of wines are purchased on the advice of somebody else and said 90 per cent of wine shoppers carry a smartphone.

The application begins with a chart outlining the path grapes take from the vineyard to a wine retail outlet.

Then the software makes it possible for people to identify the specifics for each bottle of wine.

It also helps speed product recalls which typically take two weeks, but with this software can be done in four hours.

While the technology aims to attract customers, it actually does more for marketers because they can learn more about their clientele and make adjustments to increase customer satisfaction and improve efficiencies.

Another application is helping ice wine producers to spot counterfeit marketers, including in China where up to 20 per cent of imported wines are counterfeit.

While Vinesource has applied its technology to wines, it could be adapted to any food product.

For example, the purebred Berkshire industry in Western Canada developed a system to trace every cut of pork marketed in Japan to a particular farm and litter and includes information about rations, organic farming protocols and animal bedding and housing.