Earlier this year the NFU called for the introduction of mandatory origin labelling of meat and milk in processed products. However, Martin Coates, MD of Bristol-based Food Traceability and data management software specialist, Agrantec Ltd, believes that much more can be done by adopting an ‘active labelling’ approach.
“While schemes such as the Red Tractor logo offer some measure of reassurance to consumers, they are very much ‘passive’ labels. They show that you have joined a scheme that has some standards and audits producers once in a while. But there is no guarantee that every product meets the standard,” he said.
Agrantec’s NotaZone software platform for food producers and processors streamlines and automates the often complex administration that food legislation requires allowing each business in the supply chain to collaborate in their efforts to produce quality food. NotaZone’s FollowthisFood active labelling option allows consumers to scan a QR code with a smartphone and trace the product back to the source producer, and even to an individual animal. This provides authenticity, demonstrates quality and builds trust with suppliers. And for producers, it enhances retail positioning and price – even for the smallest local brands.
NotaZone user Quentin Edwards from Cools Farm in Wiltshire said: “We produce high-value, quality beef from our historic Red Poll cattle and it is important that customers know how our beef is raised and processed. At a click of a mouse, we can share detailed information on food welfare and compliance with our local partners, butchers and consumers. From a business point of view it makes complex compliance elements much more efficient and streamlined, saving time and money on paperwork. As a small producer this a vital tool and is clearly beneficial to the customer.”
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