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Economic Research

Comparative Analysis of Beef Traceability Capabilities and Practices in Australia and Ontario

Research Lead: Value Chain Management International , Guelph, ON

Executive Summary

The effectiveness and value of any traceability system is determined by the system itself and the rigour with which it is applied. Both factors must exist for a traceability system to be effective in enabling businesses to increase their profitability and an industry to protect its competitive interests. Enabling individual businesses (e.g., producers, input providers, processors, retailers, foodservice operators) and entire sectors to optimize the benefit that they can achieve from utilizing traceability relies on the existence of a system whose capabilities extend along the entire value chain. At the very least, a beef traceability system needs to extend from an animal’s birth through to its carcass following slaughter. A second interconnected system would then provide post-slaughter capabilities, resulting in full chain traceability.

As found from a study into Australia’s National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) in 2014, the three pillars of effective chain-length traceability are movement reporting, premises ID, and animal ID. The effectiveness of NLIS is further enhanced by its ability to capture and flag information on production-related incidences that could have food safety implications, such as pharmaceutical-related withholding periods and whether the animal grazed on contaminated land. The purpose of this research is to suggest how Ontario’s beef industry could act upon lessons learned from having studied NLIS and to propose a way forward. This was achieved by concisely determining which of the information gleaned from Australia is most pertinent to Ontario’s beef industry and why, along with what barriers and enablers will determine Ontario’s ability to benefit from acting upon the information. It also determined resources required to produce outcomes that will benefit Ontario’s beef industry over the long term. To produce findings that individual businesses and policy makers can use to achieve purposeful change, the research was undertaken from a whole of chain perspective.

The research involved reviewing literature pertaining to the development and application of traceability in Canada and, most notably, Ontario. Previous beef and veal traceability projects completed by Value Chain Management International (VCMI) were also reviewed. Fifteen industry stakeholders (producers, processors, service providers, industry organizations, government officials) were then interviewed to gather their perspectives on the present situation, determining factors, and current or foreseeable initiatives that are expected to influence beef traceability in Ontario. 


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