Westfort Meat Products is the qualitative and matching link between pig farmers and retailers. “We find out what is interesting for retail organizations and how we can translate that into opportunities for farmers and the other way around,” Jaap de Wit Jr., supply chain director at the pig meat processor, explains.

Westfort Meat Products is a well-known leading pork meat processing company in the Netherlands. The company processes 250.000 tons of pork, equalling 25 million pigs, annually.

Virtual integration with RFID tags
RFID tags are one of Westfort’s digital solutions to ensure traceability and transparency. Every piglet has a yellow ear tag with a chip containing data about its life. The data provided guarantees and supports product claims, such as an antibiotics-free life. Combining and analysing the data of all farms using this system provides these entrepreneurs with valuable insights into their business and possibilities to improve.

According to De Wit, industry leaders are best positioned to start out organizing a data-integration. They have the power to do it
De Wit states, “We saw so much room for improvement.” That was the trigger for Westfort to start investing in this system. This not only provides efficiency gain for the farmers, but it will also make them more loyal towards Westfort. Using this system, Westfort is building and strengthening the pork chain. “This gives us a competitive time advantage.” Westfort is ahead of its competitors in implementing and using the new insights advantage and working it back into its suppliers' chain.

Involving the Whole Chain Will Cut the Costs and Expand the Benefits
The system is rather expensive, De Wit emphasizes. It requires years of investment before he can reap the profits. Nevertheless, Westfort took the risk and pays farmers for sharing their data just because De Wit realized no one else with a short term strategic view would take it. For Westfort's investment to be financially interesting, many other stakeholders need to be involved on top of the farmers and retail. For instance, pharma, audit companies, research facilities and feed companies could be involved in adding data to the data ecosystem initiated by Westfort. They'll profit individually and as a chain from the data gathered, but none would initiate the endeavour because of the significant up front investments needed. According to De Wit, industry leaders are best positioned to start out organizing a data-integration. “They have the power to do it.” Dutch famers can't, as they are, unlike modern Chinese pork producing facilities, just small sized businesses. For retail organizations it’s too expensive to organize this for all the products," De Wit says, adding that the "government is way too slow to integrate data."

If you cannot compare the data to other farms, the information is not interesting. Sharing is part of the programme.
Egg Data
Egg grading machine manufacturer Moba started its iMoba solution to help customers improve their performance. The Moba Group, from the village of Barneveld in the Netherlands, is the global leading manufacturer of egg grading, packing and processing machines. Raw data of eggs passing an egg grader (in laymen's words "an egg sorting machine") provide a benchmark module so layer farms individually can assess how they are doing compared to their fellow farmers. Moreover, the data helps Moba’s service department to improve their service to the machines.

“A grader is the concentration point in the egg chain”, Ren Vleer, product manager at Moba, explains. All the eggs will pass by and are measured by this machine, thus producing considerable amounts of data. “There should be some benefit in it", Vleer says. "But the question is, for whom exactly? How to harvest the full potential in a multi-owner situation?” Moba invests and deserves some return on investment, the company is sure to recoup in the future. The farmers are providing data. The same goes for them. That's for sure, even though the how is still out.

Maintain Product Leadership
Vleer underlines that data integration as Moba is approaches it, isn’t a simple business case. Moba believes in development and invests to explore the opportunities. It will make them and their customers stronger. With developments like iMoba “we try to maintain our product leadership,” Vleer says.

In iMoba the producers of the data are the owners of the data. “They stay in control”, says Vleer. Westfort uses collective ownership. Jaap de Wit's company has made agreed on not sharing the data outside the collaboration without someone’s consent to extend it. True value lies in being able to use all data, De Wit stresses. “If you cannot compare the data to other farms, the information is not interesting. Sharing is part of the programme.”

The Digital Food series has been running since the beginning of this year. This was the first talk in the Fall 2021 Series. The series focusses on practical solutions for the supply chain to ensure transparency, cost efficiency and sustainability. Join us every last Tuesday of the month for our chats in the Digital Food series. Save these dates.