UK multiples are lining up to test source tagging technologies in collaboration with academic and commercial body the Auto-ID centre. Sainsbury is leading the way by announcing plans to introduce source tagging throughout its supply chain (see p4). However, Auto-ID assistant director Europe Helen Duce said Tesco was also preparing to start tests of radio frequency (RF) tags from a concept store late in 2003. It was bidding to reduce inventory and increase visibility of goods in the supply chain. In addition, Asda is likely to trial the next generation RF technology in 2003. Duce said selected "difficult" products in sponsors' supply chains would be labelled with radio frequency barcodes which identified each item with a unique code. She said: "We are already trialling the technology in eight states in America, moving from pallet level down to case and eventually down to individual item. There are 600 billion items in the supply chain, so the challenge of storing data is enormous." But the Auto-ID centre has got the price of tags down to five US cents during these trials as it continues to address the cost issues of implementing RF technology. Auto-ID is an industry-funded research programme founded a couple of years ago to find a replacement for barcodes. It is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at Cambridge University in the UK. It has 55 business sponsors globally including Tesco, Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble. With 25 technology companies worldwide offering versions of radio frequency tagging technology, the centre wants to promote one uniform standard for equipment protocol into which existing technologies could be migrated from as early as 2004. {{NEWS }}