New isotopic data platform to be developed to back food product claims

Data evidence can tell us where food, such as these Australian apples, were grown. Image credit: CSIRO

The CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), and the National Measurement Institute (NMI) have partnered to develop a new isotonic data platform to support the verification of Australian agricultural and food product claims, as well as environmental credentials.

Isotopes are chemical signatures that provide information about food origin and cultivation. Accurate isotopic data is crucial for verifying product credentials and addressing market access demands, particularly for low-emission or deforestation-free commodities in Europe.

Speaking at the International Conference on Food Analysis in Melbourne, CSIRO’s trusted supply chains specialist Dr Nina Welti stated that there is a lot of important public isotopic data maintained within each organisation that has to be brought together to address Australia’s export challenges.

“Isotopes not only tell us about food production, they also help us to better understand environmental factors such as soil nutrients and groundwater flows,” Dr Welti explained. “Connecting these rich databases in a way that’s trusted and shareable is key to supporting research for the public good, as well as commercial outcomes for Australia’s agriculture, food and water systems.”


Dr Welti added that it’s also about ensuring data’s long-term utility so that it may be used to establish even more trust in supply chains in the future.

Ensuring equitable access to verification tools across industries is another crucial driver.

The collaboration, co-invested with the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and led by CSIRO through its Trusted Agrifood Exports Mission, connects datasets and insights across the supply chain to strengthen and expand Australia’s access to global markets.

The Australian economy relies heavily on agricultural and food export trade, worth $80 billion annually. Verification tools can help maintain critical markets and enter new high-value ones.

NMI’s Analytical Services manager Tim Stobaus stated that market demand and trade standards for sustainable farming practices are expanding.  

“Leveraging a stable isotope data platform can support innovation and insights to differentiate Australian products based on sustainable practices at the farm gate,” Stobaus said.  

“This data can assist in the evaluation of trade-offs and decisions in terms of yield, quality and management practices so that Australian agricultural commodities can reach previously unrealised premium markets and diversify their offerings to meet changing demands.”

The development of a national digital platform will be informed by use cases from industry, peak bodies, universities, and research organisations, ensuring relevance, accessibility, and sector-specific service.