The BIXS beef information platform has signed a deal with one of the biggest data-holders in Canada’s beef industry.
Cargill — one of the country’s two largest beef packers — has agreed to provide beef carcass information to the rest of the supply chain through the online data exchange.
“Carcass data has been a major roadblock for industry-wide data sharing. With this agreement, what we’re doing is removing this roadblock,” says Hubert Lau, president and CEO of BIXSco Inc., in this interview describing the arrangement with Cargill.
“This agreement is a crucial step in ensuring information flows up and down the cattle value chain,” noted Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
Launched by the CCA as the Beef InfoXchange System in 2009, the CCA partnered with ViewTrak Technologies to privatize BIXS in 2014. ViewTrak president and BIXSco vice-president Ted Power explains they see the deal with Cargill as a major milestone.
“Everybody else was standing around the swimming pool afraid to put their toe in and they jumped in,” says Power. “They’ve cannon-balled in,” clarifies Lau.
After auditing BIXS’ privacy functions, Cargill will provide data for the past three years as well as all future data as it’s collected. Cargill will start with supplying information from its packing plant at High River, with the company’s Guelph beef plant adding its data “when the time is right.”
To begin, 15 fields or carcass characteristics will be entered into the database and linked to each animal’s CCIA Tag ID.
“(The fields) are probably going to change as we engage the industry and find out what works for them and what they need,” notes Lau.
The idea is Cargill will provide feedback to cow-calf and feedlot participants in BIXS on how they can improve quality or meet supply chain requirements, while the packers, retailers and others along the beef supply chain will have the ability to connect with feedlots and cow-calf producers for sourcing animals based on the data they’ve entered in BIXS. Users remain anonymous until they contact an information source.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure information gets back to producers, and then we flow it back the other way,” explains Lau.
They’re hoping that bringing Cargill on line will convince other packers, as well as more ranchers, to participate in BIXS.
“I’m literally today phoning other packers as a result,” says Power. “People have said to us before ‘well once you get so-and-so’ or ‘once something happens.’ Now we can say ‘they’re on.'”
“We want everybody inside the swimming pool,” stresses Lau. “That’s going to include the feedlot guys, backgrounders, producer groups, financial institutions — anyone who’s involved in the beef supply chain, we want them involved.”