Food Technology: Why Traceability is Important

While beef has become the mainstay of traditional meals, less and less consumers are purchasing and eating meat. With a number of influencing factors that have the ability to control this statistic, it is important to take a look at one factor that has become a juggernaut in the consumer buying process. This factor, for lack of a better label, is known as ‘food awareness’ and has allowed the consumer to tap into the agricultural processes of their food, from farm to table. Previously, these processes were only understood by breeders, processors and retailers. However, a call for transparency has been met with a flood of information pertaining to meat, with a massive focus on beef.

Due to this transparency and the weight of influence that it carries when it comes to the consumer’s buying decision, it has become increasingly important to implement a method of traceability that allows for a certain level of disclosure when it comes to beef products. Other influencing factors include personal health, environmental impact, welfare and safety, each equally affluent when it comes to influencing the buyers decision when purchasing beef.

With regular reports of meat contamination – with hormones, antibiotics and bacteria alike – traceability has become an important factor that aims to strengthen the relationships that brands have with their consumers. It allows retailers to connect more intimately with their consumers, thus strengthening the relationships between the farmer, processer or retailer, building greater trust and loyalty across the board. Not only does traceability build better connections between consumers and retailers, but it also ensures accountability across the protein value chain – from farm to table – which assists in reputational management in the event of an incident. Today, with a number of incidents that highlight the use and prevalence of Ractopamine and Glyphosate in red meat, traceability has become increasingly important in assuring the consumer of a genuine, drug-free meat product that meets their expectations.

While traceability is important to the future of large beef corporations, it is also a tool that appears futuristic in its nature. Today, we are equipped with software [link to:]that allows breeders, processors and retailers to track their product; however, the ever-increasing need for information permits a more tightly integrated flow of information – perhaps the future will allow retailers to provide the customer with the type of information that details the beef supply chain, from farm to table, and provide the transparency that details the way in which the animal was bred, raised, slaughtered, processed and packaged.

While entirely achievable, it is important to keep in mind the fact that traditional protein value chains will be required to transform into more efficient and better coordinated processes that eliminate a large portion of manual labour and documentation.  Not only would this transformation allow more detailed traceability but it would also drive better consumer relationships, resulting in higher levels of customer predictability with regards to particular beef products.

Not only does traceability build a stronger brand, it also drives customer loyalty, a factor that is necessary in a steadily declining market. Whether you’re a breeder, processor or retailer, be sure to contact us for more information on protein value chain traceability. Click here