GROWING consumer desire to know more about where and how food is produced is placing a greater price tag on farming data and has prompted leading red meat researchers to look into the differences in information quality and value.
The premium beef producers expect on average for providing information to buyers about cattle is $20 a head, survey work by agribusiness value chain experts at the University of New England in Armidale has found.
Of all the information provided when animals are sold, breed is the most common, followed by the age of the animal, the feed used and live weight.
The higher the standard of information, the better the financial performance in terms of sales, price received and customer retention, said PhD candidate with UNE’s Centre for Agribusiness Nikki Zhang.
Ms Zang’s research looks to compare the values of information expressed at different levels of the supply chain. It also investigates the incentives for sharing information along the chain.
It follows on from supply chain performance work the University has been conducting for some time now, under the leadership of Professor Derek Baker.
It is well established that consumers are ready to pay for information surrounding product and in fact much of the product differentiation that goes on in the meat industry is around the provision of information, according to Prof Baker.
“What we are now looking at is how is that information is generated and valued within the supply chain itself in order to be delivered to consumers,” he said.
“For certain types of information that we refer to as credence attributes, consumers have been shown to be willing to pay quite a high price premium.”
Prof Baker explained there were numerous kinds of information, from details of an animal’s health status while on the farm to data included in the Meat Standards Australia system like the nature of a farm’s management through to the increasingly sought provenance of food.
“Technology has produced new ways of measurement and transmission in real time so information can be acted on to maximise the value proposition of the product,” he said.
“What we are looking at is what are the incentives for people to conduct this type of work.”
The research would focus on what information consumers were willing to pay for, rather than what information would reduce processing costs, he said.
“A characteristic of information is that there needs to be a provider and receiver, so it needs to be a collaborative effort along the supply chain and that kind of effort is difficult to achieve,” Prof Baker said.
“What we are able to offer is an evaluation of the particular types of information that have the highest value and where there are inconsistencies created by one actor in the chain placing a different value on on a piece of information to another.”
The aim would be to form mechanisms by which that sort of conflict could be resolved so the information signal can get all the way through to the consumer, he said.
The next step of the research will involve a survey which those in the red meat supply chain are urged to participate in.
To be involved visit https://www.une.edu.au/about-une/faculty-of-science-agriculture-business-and-law/unebs/centre-for-agribusiness/red-meat-value-chains.