A Real Cattle Call

The electronic supply chain rides tall in the saddle

Sebastian, FL  August 23, 2001  Just as the citrus industry is faced with the task of tracking oranges, the beef industry is faced with some herculean challenges when it comes to its supply chain. Oranges are varied, but they don't walk. Cattle walk, run, jump and do other things designed to make a cattleman's life hard. The U.S. beef industry is $40 billion industry, which means there are lots of chances for mistakes between the pasture and the plate.

And just as the orange industry is moving to managing its supply chain electronically, the beef industry is electronically handling heifers on the hoof. beefeMerge Interactive, a technology and interactive cattle-marketing company, has formed a strategic technology alliance with two privately held companies, Allflex Holdings and Farmexpress S.A. Allflex Holdings is a provider of visual and electronic animal-identification systems, and Farmexpress S.A. is a European provider of livestock-industry information technology. By forming these alliances, beefeMerge Interactive hopes to jumpstart a global effort to create an industry standard in individual animal tracking solutions for the beef industry.

By assimilating the companies' electronic-identification, data-collection and information-management technologies, the alliance will allow cattle-industry participants to individually track cattle throughout the supply chain, providing source and process verification from birth to the retail store. The goals include increasing profitability throughout the supply chain, increasing the quality and consistency of beef products, verifying total quality assurance, enhancing food safety and providing global solutions to global livestock problems. This strategy will provide a framework for establishing global standards for individual-animal identification, creating an industry procurement system to enable retailers and others to secure supply based on specific characteristics and enabling branding opportunities.

The three companies have agreed to integrate the technologies that each has developed unilaterally, including:

  • eMerge Interactive's high-volume individual animal data-collection, reporting, and information-management technologies, designed to complement its U.S. online and off-line cattle-marketing network

  • Automatic data capture and data transmission tools developed by Farmexpress, primarily designed for tracking the movements of animals. The importance of this technology has been highlighted by the recent Foot and Mouth disease outbreaks in Europe and Latin America

  • Allflex's half-duplex electronic identification ear-tag and reader technology, which can operate in the hostile environments of ranches, feedlots and packing houses

"eMerge has built very valuable market-channel positions and proprietary information-management technologies," said Gilles de Vienne, CEO of Allflex. "Allflex will continue to work with innovators around the world to bring integrated solutions to livestock management, but we are particularly excited about this venture with eMerge and Farmexpress.

Tom Tippens, chairman and interim CEO of eMerge, said, We're proud of our leadership in helping the U.S. beef industry enhance its prosperity through data management and quality assurance, nationwide cattle marketing, process verification, and food safety. But our ability to collaborate with these worldwide leaders is critical to our ultimate quest  providing industry participants with powerful yet affordable technologies and services to boost their profitability, while helping them deliver consistent, verifiable products that consumers prefer."

Farmexpress CEO Jerome Reboul noted that the European cattle industry has been through a very difficult period in recent years in the wake of Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth disease epidemics. "Our technology, knowledge and experience in helping the industry deal with these crises through information tracking and verification will be very beneficial to eMerge in the U.S. as it drives industry adoption of its technologies."