Traceability in cattle beef chain in Brazil

Paulo Pianez, Director of Sustainability and Communication at Marfrig

Food traceability is becoming a requirement from consumer markets around the world. Brazilian meat, in particular, depends even more of certification that guarantees its origin.

AgriBrasilis invited Paulo Pianez, Director of Sustainability and Communication from Marfrig, Graduated Economist from Unicamp and post-graduated in Retail Management from Youngstown University in Ohio, USA.

AgriBrasilis – What does traceability mean and what are the procedures?

Paulo Pianez – Traceability is an effective and transparent procedure to monitor the complete journey of food productive chain, since the origin till the consumer. This ensures that legal and sanitary procedures are being followed at all stages.

In the case of meat industry, this process aims to trace from the animal birthplace. To that end, a series of tools are adopted by all actors in the chain, so data from each stage is captured and recorded in a standardized and fit to be audit way.

AgriBrasilis – How did the requirement for traceability arise?

Paulo Pianez – In recent years, clients and consumers concern about sustainability issues and governance has grown a lot. Some foreign markets, for example, which are the major clients of our livestock production, required traceability to enable the purchase. There is a great worry that the systems and products consumed don’t contribute directly or indirectly to illegal deforestation, slave or child labor, river pollution etc.

AgriBrasilis – How is Marfrig’s traceability system? Who are the participants of this chain?

Paulo Pianez – Marfrig tracking platform includes production and distribution, which means our direct suppliers, our factories, transportation companies and direct clients (food service) and retail.

Besides essential information–production, health standards, commercialization-, a complete set of complementary data is collected, such as presence in deforestation areas, overlap with indigenous and protected land, embargoed areas and labor conditions analogous to slavery or child labor.

In the past few years, we have invested in tracking animals since their origin to an approach of inclusion and continuous improvement. The goal is to reach zero deforestation in Amazon biomes by 2025 and in Cerrado [Brazilian Savanah] by 2030, through differentiated tools and approaches. Among the instruments used there is georeferencing and geomonitoring through satellite, structured to map all our direct suppliers and to mitigate direct risks, such as fire outbreaks.

Marfrig also applies its Request for information to all its direct suppliers who are not in the complete cycle. This solution enables the company to have a better view of its direct supply chain. Also there is the use of the blockchain based traceability platform (Conecta), which is an approach based on blockchain developed in partnership with Safe Trace, CPQD, TNC and Friends of Earth to offer more safety and transparency to traceability throughout the supply chain. Application tests for this tool are being carried out now in the first semester of 2021.

For greater reliability in these processes, every year our operations are subject to external audit every year, and in the last 8 consecutive audits, the company has been 100% in compliance with the requirements.

AgriBrasilis – What are the benefits, for breeder and consumer?

Paulo Pianez – For breeders, the benefits are better management of herds, guaranteeing productivity, efficiency and the possibility of being certified. Also the access to international markets and more added value, once the meat that comes from animals bred according to sustainable protocols is increasingly in demand.

Consumers acquire food with proven quality, and the certainty of buying products whose chain is free of illegal deforestation, slave and children labor, pollution to rivers, indigenous land and protected area.

AgriBrasilis – What is Marfrig’s role in the chain of production, distribution and exportation of meat?

Paulo Pianez – Marfrig is the greater hamburger producer in the world and one of the main global producers of beef. We acknowledge our role in the context of sustainable development of these activities, and more than that, we are committed to social and environmental causes. For this reason, we have been developing for more than 10 years technologies to mitigate risks, always engaging suppliers and offering transparency to all actors involved.

We want to be a transforming agent of beef chain in the world. With that in mind, in 2020 we launched the Plano Marfrig Verde+ (Marfrig Green+ Plan), an unprecedented and complete tracking program of its whole supply chain, including indirect suppliers, thus becoming the first company in the sector to publicly commit to achieve free deforestation by 2030. Since then, the company has worked with its partners in the processes to reach all the established goals and ensure the accomplishment of all requirements set in the program’s policy and protocols. The deadline for carrying out this step in Amazon biome is by 2025, and by 2030 Marfrig will have mapped the complete chain in Cerrado as well.