Animal Traceability and Consumer AssuranceSunday, Jul 8, 2001
A UK news item gives a glimpse of the future of traceability when applied to livestock products. It
is a glimpse that begs the question, but why? Who will benefit? Or is it only being done because there
are now systems available that may enable it to be done?
The report says that from 1 August, UK customers of an Irish company can see for themselves, on the
internet, the farm from which their meat derives, the farmer who reared the animal and even the field
where it grazed. Not only that but also included is a colour picture of farmer and wife with one
of his children on his shoulders surrounded by grazing cattle.
Is this not the ultimate in green marketing madness?
Farmers without photogenic wives and children will be discriminated against in the market place! Or
even worse, like the Trapp family of the Sound of Music, hefty 30 year old farmers sons will be squeezed
short pants to look like an 8 year old for the annual photo in the vain hope of appearing as
the perfect farming family who’s smiling faces assure the customer that their product is wholesome.
The rationale of the company's commercial director is, "It is very good meat reared in Ireland, which
is marvellous. But the traceability aspect represents a unique way of linking the consumer with
the grower and producer that I think customers will like. People will be able to see the farmer who
reared the meat and the farm the animal grew up on. We always carry out due diligence as to the
source of our products, but this will make it much easier and will enable us to reassure our customers
If the Irish are competitors for New Zealand and ownership tussle between Richmond and PPCS should come
down to a marketing policy such as this Irish promotion, then the PPCS model of “if its
meat you want then its meat you will get” rather than the more responsive Richmond approach
of “we will cut it and pack it any way you want” may be in for modification.
Marketing is about filling people’s needs and producers should take care they are responding to
a real need rather than an artificial perception created by a marketer.