China is the biggest market by volume for Australian beef, with exports rising 73% last year.
Australians consume on average 26kg per person of beef per year, while Chinese consumption is considerably lower at 6kg.
However, Chinese beef consumption is growing rapidly, Warwick Powell, chairman at Beefledger told FoodNavigator-Asia: “Factors driving this include rising household incomes, greater consumer awareness of and confidence in the quality of Australian beef, and protein-switching as a result of the African Swine Flu impact on pork supplies.”
This increase in demand in turn increases the risks of meat fraud and safety. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that every second kilogram of beef sold in China under the banner of being Australian was not actually Australian beef.
According to Powell, beef could be misrepresented along one of three dimensions:
“One, the country of origin claims were untrue. Two, cut of meat claims were untrue. Third, adulteration or full substitution with pork, duck breast and horse meats are being cited as common substitutes.”
Increase consumer confidence
Beefledger is now developing and commercialising an integrated blockchain-enabled beef provenance and payment platform.
The system will verify all aspects of the beef supply chain from the feedlot to the fork through data collected from IOT devices, as well as photographs and videos. Information about cattle health, location, transport and processing would be uploaded onto the Beefledger interface at every point in the supply chain.
The firm which started working on the platform in 2017, hopes it will help consumers validate the credentials of the product they are purchasing, and drive efficiencies in the supply chain by reducing information asymmetries between transacting parties.
Beefledger is a token-driven platform where anyone in the supply chain can participate in the network by purchasing BEEF tokens. These can then be used by importers, retailers and wholesalers to pay for beef shipments.
The platform was supported by Food Agility, a co-operative research centre funded by the Federal Government and the industry.