By Bob Lynn
There are several factors that influence your market share. The most obvious would be the consumer’s need or trust in your product. With the increasingly wide spread use of cell phones, information now travels at lightning speed. Trust is being challenged every day by the publishing of undercover videos and sometimes irresponsible Tweets and Internet Blogs.
North American food producers need to catch up with the rest of the world and be proactive by preserving our trust. The same technology considered to be a nuisance by some, can be used along with traceability software to be an effective tool to alter marketing trends for the better. Traceability software has been proven to help increase awareness of animal welfare and increased profitability overseas.
One of the most powerful stories we can tell about our food products is how they are produced. Consumers are looking for integrity from the companies supplying their food and the processors that are willing to be transparent about traceability rank highly in the eyes of these consumers. It only takes one negative experience to destroy trust. And it’s pretty tough to regain that trust after it’s been lost.
Food safety in protein has always been a priority of large food companies and every level of government. More and more, we are seeing the addition of traceability as a requirement for more and more Agri sectors being added to their focus. But are we doing enough?
Denmark was the first country to fully adopt national voluntarily traceability software for its poultry Industry. Officials there felt that true traceability begins before the hatchery and continues throughout the life of the animal, recording and linking all inputs that affect quality, food safety, animal welfare and economics.
With the help of Lyngsoe Systems’ Agri traceability software, farmers can now use traceability as a production management tool to enhance productivity. By housing all data in one central data base farmers are now able to analyze results and create benchmarks. This allows all farmers to grade their performance and overall productivity and economical results against the national average. As a result, they can identify and focus on issues where they are performing below average.
Since 2010 feed prices have been at an historical high in Denmark, but Danish farmers have still been able to enjoy good profits per bird in that same period of time. The use of traceability software has also reduced the frequency and cost of third party audits. Large retailers and restaurant chains in the EU are demanding better traceability and won’t purchase from a company that does not comply.
To create a better traceability systems one must begin with a standard and have total “buy in” from all stakeholders. The majority of paper-based systems must be replaced with electronic data collection and record keeping. Data collection must be streamlined with simple interfaces (Smart Phone Apps and Cloud Access) and auto ID collection such as Barcode or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). The systems must be randomly audited to ensure compliance and better record keeping. Finally, one should analyze the traceability data for benchmarking and improving production. This advanced traceability solution also includes value-added features that will promote sustainability and a better return on investment.
FoodTag™ is a related marketing software, also developed by Lyngsoe, that is used in the promotion of traceable foods at the retail level. This tagging system sets new standards for food safety, transparency, credibility and a high level of information for all types of food products from farm to fork. Foodtag.ca is an on-line marketing portal allowing integrated processors to tell their unique story directly to the consumer at point of purchase. The consumer can access information about product origin, added ingredients, recipes and even discount coupons displayed directly on their Smartphone by scanning a QR Code (2D Barcode) located on the packaging. Current product declarations only provide the most essential details, ingredients and best before date. Concerned consumers want to know more. FoodTag is only available in Denmark at present, but is in the process of being introduced in North America.
Thanks to new, integrated software developed specifically for the poultry industry along with advances made in smart phone technology to eliminate paper data collection, North American poultry farmers and processors have the opportunity to take advantage of a new approach to traceability. There truly needs to be a paradigm shift in the way traceability is perceived. The collected data should no longer be used merely as insurance, or used only in the case of emergency, but analyzed and used as a tool for production management and increased profitability. The story of traceability will increase market awareness of proper animal welfare, and at the same time instil greater consumer confidence. Traceability is the key to preserving trust and improving market share.
About the Author
A graduate of Ryerson University, Robert Lynn has spent the last twelve years focused on serving a broad range of corporate customers throughout North America helping to improve their productivity through the introduction of various technologies including software, bar-coding solutions and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). For the past three years Lynn has been focused on improving food safety compliance and the awareness of productivity for the food industry. He is currently in charge of Business Development at Lyngsoe Systems Ltd., a global leader in auto ID collection, logistics and Agri traceability software.
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