Consumers would be able to use smart phones in-store to get an “unprecedented” level of information on products, according to Li He, president of Inner Mongolia Kerchin Cattle Industry Co.
Launching the ‘Kerchin Cattle Industry Product Tracing Enquiry System’ at a ceremony during the company’s annual marketing conference recently, Li said that improving traceability was key to the firm’s future competitiveness.
Information available real-time to consumers includes the slaughter date, breed and age of the animal, as well as farm origin and address. Likewise, the Kerchin system will provide specific quarantine details and details of origin of imported beef and details of drug residue levels in the meat. “We want our beef from the grassland to the table to be more transparent, safe and secure. We are pioneering traceability in the Chinese beef industry, this is a milestone in the field of food safety...”
Kerchin is keen to ensure consumer confidence in its products as it aims to build sales online. The Kerchin marketing conference also heard how the company was adapting to the Chinese government policy of internet-driven economic growth. Chinese agribusiness firms are being encouraged to developed logistics to be able to capitalise on the increasing popularity of e-commerce in the country.
The firm is also using the internet to burnish its environmental credentials and drive sales. Kerchin used the launch of a new range of sausages earlier this month to launch a crowd funding venture for an ‘eco-ranch’ project, which will help prevent desertification in the Inner Mongolian grasslands.
The project, which raised almost RMB2 million in the first week of August, showed “the internet is a powerful tool and gives us a new marketing model” company president Li told the firm’s annual marketing conference.
Kerchin has been nothing if not ambitious in recent years. Located in Tongliao city in the sparsely populated province of Inner Mongolia and taking its name from the local Kerchin grasslands, Kerchin in 2013 hired processing systems specialist Marel to install a new beef processing line which gives Kerchin scope to slaughter 200,000 heads of cattle per year. But the firm hasn’t come near to full utilisation of that capacity. Kerchin also has cold chain capacity to produce 40,000 tons of frozen and chilled beef per year.
Aside from a giant plant in Tongliao the firm also has a new plant in Nanyang in the populous central province of Henan. The firm in recent years has also sought to expand its feed production business and what the firm terms “grassland ecosystem improvement” through for instance installing biogas energy production from its feedlots.
While Kerchin kills most of its beef from local, self-fed herds, it also processes imported beef to satisfy growing Chinese demand for beef. China imported 295,017 tonnes (t) of frozen beef in 2014, up from 282,890t in 2013 and 60,524t in 2012.