Farmison traceability

Source: Farmison & Co

The upmarket online butcher started rolling out front-of-pack QR codes across its whole cut range this month

Farmison & Co has launched an on-pack traceability system that enables customers to look up the origins of their meat.

The upmarket online butcher started rolling out front-of-pack QR codes across its whole cut range this month.

When scanned with a smartphone, the codes take customers to the Farmison website, which provides a raft of information on the origin of their meat. This includes how it was fed and reared, the number of food miles involved in bringing it to market and the background of the farmers involved.

Users can also access comprehensive information on the cut, videography of the farm and exclusive recipes on how to prepare the meat, created by Michelin-starred chef Jeff Baker.

The scheme looks to build on Farmison’s existing commitment to traceability, which means the brand knows its farms and farmers “intimately”, said founder John Pallagi.

The launch was timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Horsegate scandal. And while the food sector has taken steps to increase safety since then, Pallagi warned the meat supply chain remained “vulnerable” and consumers were demanding full traceability.

“The horsemeat scandal undoubtedly inspired scrutiny from retailers into their supply chains at the time, but I wonder what reforms have been introduced,” he said.

“I fear the answer isn’t enough – and that meat supply chains remain as opaque and difficult to trace as ever. Reputation management has been more important than addressing the fundamental wrongs of these systems,” he added.

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“There is a lot more to do around labelling,” he suggested. For example, retailers often described beef as Aberdeen Angus or Hereford, despite the fact it may only have been sired by a bull from one of the breeds, he pointed out.

The likes of M&S, the Soil Association and The Co-op have previously introduced meat traceability schemes. However, the new Farmison initiative was described as a “world first” by Pallagi, due to the detail involved and its “direct from farm” transparency, which he said was easily accessible to customers.

Pallagi questioned why a similar scheme had not been introduced by a mainstream supermarket chain. “We’re hoping it will shame the supply chain and grocers about why they are not doing this,” he said.

It comes as Farmison slipped into the red in 2021, as growth slowed following a boom in sales at the start of the covid pandemic.

Accounts recently posted with Companies House for the year to 31 December 2021 showed a £2.57m pre-tax loss for the financial year, compared with a £717,029 pre-tax profit in the previous accounting period. However, turnover did grow, by 15% to £11.9m.

Farmison chair Christine Cross this week told investors the business had made a similar loss in 2022 “due to investment in building both the IT infrastructure and customer base” of the business.

But speaking as Farmison hit a £2m crowdfunding target from 531 investors on the Seedrs platform, she stressed the business had a “well substantiated growth plan back to profit as our customer segmentation builds momentum and loyalty kicks in”.

Pallagi was also keen to stress the business was still on a growth trajectory and continued to be “well invested”.