Additive Tracers

Additive Tracers

Also Known As

“In-Product Tracers” or “Externally Introduced Forensic or Physical Markers”

Functionality in Traceability Systems

Can be added to a good (either at one node of the supply chain or multiple nodes) and then tested for and/or tracked throughout the supply chain. Additive tracers support digital chain of custody traceability by linking physical goods with digital record keeping.


Additive tracers are physical markers – typically a substance such as artificial DNA or fluorescent ink – that can be applied to a traceable good by mixing, spraying, or through other application methods at any point within the supply chain. The markers can then be identified through various modes of testing or tracking in order to confirm the physical identity of the good. Evidence generated through this testing or tracking can be linked with digital records to provide physical verification of traceability information gathered from other sources, such as transactional documentation and site visits.

Additive tracers cannot be removed without compromising the physical integrity of the good. Because these technologies must be applied in advance, they require the cooperation of upstream suppliers. Additive tracers have different levels of durability depending on the nature of the technology and product transformations across a given supply chain.

Additive tracers can help verify the identity of a physical good and facilitate the creation of a digital identity of a physical good by enabling data to be linked to that specific good. When used alongside Digital Chain of Custody Platforms and technologies such as Blockchain, additive tracers can provide more accurate and granular data about product provenance and integrity in real-time, and support efforts to streamline and automate the process of collecting traceability information.

Associated Traceability System Element

Additive tracers support Product Tracking and Scientific Validation methods by providing evidence of the provenance or integrity of a physical good, which can be used to support digital chain of custody records and add a layer of physical verification to models that rely on transactional and site verification. In the case of product tracking methods that involve mixing of certified and non-certified materials or goods, some additive tracers can help to represent the percentage of a certified good or material in the finished product.

Supply Chain Characteristics Feasibility Considerations

Since this technology requires significant investment and cooperation from supply chain actors, this would be best suited to a supply chain where upstream suppliers are known and willing to engage in and support the process of applying and tracking additive tracers. The implementation of this technology would not be feasible in a supply chain where knowledge of or access to suppliers is limited or non-existent.


Fashion For Good Pilot
Several different additive tracers (Tailorlux, which is a fluorescent technology; Haelixa, which is a DNA tracer; and In-Code Technologies, which provided several tracer technologies)
Gübelin Gem Lab and Provenance Proof
DNA-based nanoparticles, which are directly applied to rough gem crystals at the mine, and which can be retrieved and decoded at any point along the supply chain
FibreTrace and Reformation
FibreTrace’s luminescent traceable pigment

Additional Resources