A new online auction site is vying to become the ‘eBay for the meat industry’, allowing meat to be bought and sold on an anonymously basis across the globe.

The Meatnet.com website - whose motto is ‘let’s buy, let’s sell, let’s meat’ - launched in beta last week. It is run by Meatlink, a recently formed company registered in Cyprus, which says it has been developing the idea over the past five years.

Prospective buyers can register with the site free of charge and then bid on wholesale quantities of meats; sellers can create auctions for their meat items for a fee of €0.99 per auction.

At the time of writing, items on sale through Meatnet.com included 22 pallets of frozen hamburgers - totalling 17,600kg - with an expiry date of January 2015 at a starting bid of €2.80/kg. No information on country of origin was given other than that the product was from France, and the seller was identified simply as ‘franck’. However, commercial director Dimitry Skazas stressed the site was still in beta testing and it would be up to buyers and sellers to communicate relevant product details to each other.

Buyers and sellers remained anonymous until an auction had ended, but prospective buyers could request additional information from sellers during the bidding process, he added. There would be a way for Meatnet.com to establish the “professional credentials” of those buying and selling on its platform, Skakas said, although he did not provide details of how this would be done. “We want to be the eBay for the meat industry - it is not us doing the trading; we are simply there to help buyers and sellers meet.”

Since the horsemeat scandal, many parts of the meat industry have focused on shortening supply chains, taking middlemen out of their systems, and forging closer, long-term relationships with suppliers.

The idea of meat being traded anonymously across borders has therefore sparked concern in the UK meat industry, with one source saying “given what we know and have learnt about transparent and clear supply chains, this is clearly in contradiction with what a good supply chain looks like”. But Skazas claimed having an open trading platform like Meatnet.com, with buying and selling information and pricing data accessible to everyone, would in fact increase transparency. “Our platform is a way to get more information to buyers,” he said.

According to Skazas, Meatlink was set up “very recently” with the specific purpose of developing and launching the Meatnet.com platform. He said the company currently had 11 full-time employees - most of whom had a background as analysts and IT professionals rather than being from the meat industry - and the company had secured the necessary capital for Meatnet.com although he did not provide further details.

With the beta version of the site now live, the full launch is expected to take place within the next two to three months. The updated version of the site will be in French, German, Italian and Spanish as well as English, and will feature a new function allowing buyers to post their meat requirements, which prospective sellers can then bid to fulfil. Although Meatnet.com is accessible globally and ultimately wanted to serve customers around the world, its primary market for the foreseeable future would be Europe, Skazas added.