Packing plants are looking for traceability systems due to new food safety measures. The measures brought in new regulations requiring that businesses keep track of supplies from when they are bought from the farmer to then are sold to consumers.
Requirements relating to exports, support for branded meat label claims, and for better day-to-day inventory management have also increased the demand for such products.
AgInfoLink USA, a privately-held food traceability company, said its Meat Inventory Tracking System (MITS) software was developed to meet the demand.
The company just completed its first installation of MITS at Western Prime Meats in Weyburn, a town in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Lee Curkendall, AgInfoLink's vice president for business development, described MITS as an affordable and easy-to-use carcass-to-cut traceability system for small to medium size packing plants.
"Traceability, combined with added efficiencies in processes and better management of information, will continue to be an important part of the meat business, and we're making it easier for our customers to meet these challenges and remain competitive," Curkendall stated.
MITS 2.0 includes additional functionality such as the ability to track product by lot ID, animal ID or cut type ID, to edit live animal data, and to manage meat cut inventory within boxed product and storage location.
The US Department of Agriculture last month released a plan outlining timelines and benchmarks for implementation of a national system to trace animals throughout the supply chain.
The National Animal Identification System, along with a plan for the initial integration of private and state animal tracking databases, sets out what the USDA calls an "aggressive timeline for ensuring full implementation" by 2009. Under the plan, NAIS is expected to be operational by next year and achieve full producer participation by 2009.
The agriculture secretary, Mike Johanns, said producers' willingness to meet the benchmarks by registering their premises and animals with NAIS would determine whether the program remains voluntary or becomes mandatory.
Other countries with animal identification systems, such as Australia, are using traceability as a marketing tool to gain a competitive advantage over the US, he warned. Major retailers are also demanding traceability throughout the supply chain.
"I hope industry will respond as they see other countries acting and see retailers acting," he said at a press conference. "I think industry will move in a direction to make it happen. I really do see the world headed in this direction."