Improved Traceability Enhance Export Opportunities?

CANADA - Researchers with the University of Alberta are hopeful enhanced food traceability systems will give Canadian beef producers a marketing edge in Japan, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 4 June 2009
clock icon 2 minute read
University of Manitoba
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Japanese consumers are especially sensitive to issues related to food safety and Japan is quick to close its border when there might be issues related to animal disease or other food safety issues.

Dr. Ellen Goddard, the cooperative chair in agricultural marketing and business with the University of Alberta, told those on hand yesterday for Trace R&D 2009 in Winnipeg, since Japan has much more stringent animal testing protocols and traceability standards for the beef they produce within their own country, researchers are interested to know how they might respond if Canada changes its animal testing protocols or introduces a complete traceability system for beef exported to Japan.

Ellen Goddard-University of Alberta

Commodities like beef that are produced within Japan sell at a dramatically higher price than beef sells for in Canada.

There's no question that a traceability system is costly.

There's no question that consumers will pay a higher price if we ever implemented much more stringent traceability standards that went all the way from the paddock to the plate as people say.

There are other markets that are equally sensitive so Japan might be a prototype for looking at some of those other markets.

We can't quite answer the question yet but we're hoping within the next few months to be able to say categorically whether the increased cost might be appropriate.

Maybe it's just segments of the Canadian industry that decide to adopt this standard and target Japanese exports as their primary focus and maybe Japan would be happy for that.

There clearly is some kind of premium if we can get in there. Whether it outweighs the cost will depend on the Japanese willingness to pay.

Dr. Goddard suspects Japan will view the U.S. market as separate from the Canadian market and there could be a marketing edge for Canada.

She hopes to have a clearer indication of that once the final research is available.

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