Cargill makes carcass data deal

by Erica Shaffer
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BIXS will  help monitor the beef carcass specs of the Canadian beef supply chain.

CALGARY, Alberta – Cargill, one of the largest meatpackers in Canada, recently agreed to provide beef carcass specs to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s (CCA) Beef Information Exchange System (BIXS). BIXS, which is operated by BIXSco, is a database and Internet-based app that enables the collection of information on individual animals and carcass data across the Canadian beef supply chain. The system is a partnership between the CCA and ViewTrak, a livestock technology company.

“In Canada, access to carcass data has long been identified as the major obstacle to industry-wide data sharing as it relates to cattle production information throughout the supply chain,” according to a statement sent to MEAT+POULTRY by Cargill.  “The improved BIXS data management system will provide more detailed carcass data to help beef producers improve management and profitability.”

The information Cargill plans to provide will include carcass data from all animals processed at the company’s beef plant in High River, Alberta. Cargill agreed to supply three years of past data plus all future carcass data to be provided to BIXS in trust. CCA said 15 fields of data will be provided. The initial data transfer will start with the High River facility, but may expand to include its Ontario plant in the future.

BIXS is a voluntary and confidential system that was established in 2009. Cow-calf producers in Canada may register their animals on the BIXS website using ear tag numbers, according to the CCA. The producer inputs basic information about the cattle with the option to include information about production practices, health treatments or other information.

Once registered, cattle can be traced throughout the production system, from feedlots to packers. Retailers, foodservice companies and other stakeholders in the system can use BIXS to find cattle that meet their specifications or send a query to find producers who can produce the cattle they need. A robust BIXS will allow stakeholders in the beef supply chain to sell data up and downstream.

“Data sharing provides transparency in sustainable practices and commitment Canadian producers have to provide the best quality beef,” Cargill said. “By helping to track those practices through the supply chain, we can strengthen and protect the whole industry. Through BIXS, producers will be able to better manage their businesses, enhance their breeding and marketing programs and increase the overall value of their product leading to increased profits and competitiveness.”

In a statement, CCA said data will be provided to BIXS following an audit by Cargill of BIXS’ privacy functions. The BIXS data management system is currently being rebuilt to accommodate the anticipated high volume of data.

“In partnership with Cargill, we look forward to helping the industry unlock value by sharing data through the Beef InfoXChange System (BIXS), which now includes more detailed carcass data to help beef producers improve management and profitability,” Herbert Lau, president and CEO of BIXSco, said in a statement. Lau added that no personal information will be shared through BIXS. Users remain anonymous until they choose to contact a source of information.

“…Better sharing of information benefits the entire supply chain and consumers,” Cargill said. “Sharing information helps individuals understand and get compensated for the value of their work by other parts of the chain.  This important data already exists, but its value remains locked because it isn’t shared.  This agreement helps make that data accessible to all parts of the industry.”

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