Laplante Poultry implements award-winning product tracking system

A barcode scanning device used at Laplante Poultry (Photo courtesy of Laplante Poultry)

A barcode scanning device used at Laplante Poultry (Photo courtesy of Laplante Poultry)

By Treena Hein

(Sarsfield) – Food safety is something that the public takes very seriously – and so do farmers like Robert Laplante. Laplante is not just a broiler chicken farmer, he’s also the owner of a processing plant and it’s critically important that data input errors of all kinds are eliminated and that product recall times (if a recall was ever ordered) are as fast as possible. To do all this and more, the owner of Laplante Poultry and Feather Weight Farms implemented a completely automated product tracking system, one that won him a 2014 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Continue reading

Ontario farmer uses barcodes to raise the bar on beef

By Jeanine Moyer

(Simcoe and Stoney Creek) – Ontario beef farmer Cory Van Groningen knows what’s important to his customers – quality

Cory Van Groningen

Cory Van Groningen

and trust. And he’s found a way to increase meat tenderness while tracing every single cut of beef from the farm, directly into the hands of his customer. All this is achieved by using barcodes and innovative tracking systems that begin at the animal’s birth, and follow right through to placing prime beef cuts in the grocery store cooler.

As co-owner of the family business, VG Meats, Van Groningen is responsible for keeping the supply chain short by raising cattle for their own processing plant and retail stores. He and his wife Heidi run a 400 cross-bred cow herd, producing beef for VG Meats and other retailers. Raising cattle directly for their own market means Van Groningen has complete control over the product through every stage, beginning at birth, to ensure health, quality and traceability.

Keeping with a 40-year family tradition of processing and retailing meat, Van Groningen also works alongside his parents and three brothers, managing and operating a processing plant and two retail locations. Selling directly to customers through two retail locations in Simcoe and Stoney Creek, ON, means Van Groningen and his family can talk directly to their customers, determining exactly what they want and what’s important to them.

“We’ve learned customers want to trust the people packaging their meat,” says Van Groningen. “They often ask questions as a way to learn more about products and test a retailer’s competency. Traceability is a way to earn their trust and help them verify they’ve made the right choice in choosing our meat products.”

As a farmer, food processor and retailer, Van Groningen knows consumer trust means the family business needs to be accountable for the products they sell. And that means product traceability right from the farm to the customer’s plate. Continue reading

Even Livestock are Getting in on the Tech Craze

Jean L Clavelle

RFID 2 PICAccording to StatsCan as of January 1, 2014 there are over 12 million beef and dairy cattle, almost 900,000 sheep and lambs, and nearly 250,000 bison in Canada.   Which is a lot of animals.  Bet you didn’t know that each and every one of those animals can be identified by its own unique number (much like our own Social Insurance Number).  The next question might be why…?  Why would livestock need to have their own number?

Well it is simple really.  With individual animal numbers we are able to easily track where any one animal came from in Canada.  The ability to identify animals and their origins during an animal health or food safety emergency is paramount to the success of the response operation and the protection of human and animal health.  Meaning it gives us the ability to prevent the spread of disease and further, to eradicate disease as it arises – to protect not only Canadian livestock but consumers and customers as well.

It was initiated in 1998 by beef and dairy industry leaders who recognized the importance of protecting our national herd and assuring consumer confidence which lead to the establishment of a national identification program.  On January 1, 2001 the Government of Canada passed regulations for compulsory animal identification for both cattle and bison. The Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP) followed suit with its own industry-led trace-back system introduced in 2004 applicable to all ovine animals in Canada. Continue reading

Traceability programs offer benefits to farmer, processor and consumer

By Melanie Epp

(Waterdown) – Fourth generation potato farmers Shawn and Chris Brenn of Waterdown have always known that if they were to get an edge on their competition, they’d have to keep up with retailer demands.

One of those retailer demands was traceability, or the ability to trace a product’s movement through the supply chain, its history and location through documentation. The Brenns started by keeping their own extensive on-farm records, and when an opportunity to participate in a grant project offered through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) arose, they jumped on it. OMAF was offering cost-shared funding to help growers implement on-farm traceability programs and the Brenns saw this as the perfect opportunity to improve their operation.

Shawn Brenn stands in his potato storage warehouse

“We saw what was coming and felt that there was no better way to start the process than to get some assistance from OMAF,” said Shawn Brenn.

Since retailers were – and still are – more interested in dealing with farmers who have traceability programs in place, he knew that participating in the program could create further market opportunities. But the program offered additional, unexpected benefits, including increased customer confidence and loyalty, improved product quality and on-farm savings.

The meat and potatoes of traceability

Brenn-B Farms has been keeping extensive farm records for about 12 years now, since long before they implemented their traceability plan. Knowing which farm inputs they were using, how often and how much helped them to keep costs to a minimum. Today, the records they keep are much more extensive, though. Software allows them to track farm inputs, including seed, fertilizers and chemicals. Each product now also has its own unique lot number, and if needed, can be traced back to its source.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for instance, gives seed potatoes a certified lot number, information that the Brenns store digitally. “Those seed lots and certification numbers are very important to us in case, six months down the road, we have an issue with the way the potatoes are growing,” says Brenn, adding, “or if there’s some sort of disease that we want to be able to trace back to the seed, we can do it.”

Technology has come a long way. The Brenns’ tractors, for instance, have computers in them that not only monitor crop inputs, but also everything from sprayer levels to that day’s weather conditions. It can even keep track of operational expenses, like fuel consumption.

But traceability isn’t just about monitoring inputs and cutting costs. It’s about being able to trace a product right back to its source. On Brenn-B Farms, traceability extends to packaging as well. The potatoes they grow are divided by size, package and grade, and then packaged accordingly.

“All of those items get assigned a unique number that we ink on all of the bags,” says Brenn. “The idea is that at any given time, if we’re walking through the barn, we can see a lot number on a crate, and we can see a lot number on a bag.”

In the grocery store, consumers can see that same lot number inked on the clip that seals the bag or onto the bag itself. If Brenn was to walk into a grocery store, he could plug the lot number into his smart phone, and trace that bag back to where it was produced. He can even tell how long it has sat in a warehouse before actually hitting the store shelves.

Those numbers come in especially handy if a customer is unhappy with one of his products. Brenn says he once received a call about a bag of potatoes that seemed fine on the surface, but contained potatoes whose insides were black. He was able to both determine and address the problem. The potatoes were harvested in temperatures that were slightly too cold and the insides had bruised as a result. Brenn refunded his customer’s money and gave them another bag of potatoes. Not only was he able to keep his customer happy, but he could also be sure not to make the same mistake again. All of this data helps in providing consumers with the best quality potatoes possible.

“I think most consumers now are concerned with where their food comes from and how it’s handled. With the traceability system that we have, we have all of that information for them readily available if they ever have concerns or issues,” says Brenn. “From a consumer standpoint, it’s the reassurance that we truly are tracking the products and the inputs – and the safety of the food that we’re supplying.”

To learn more about this Ontario farm business, visit


This article is one in a series of profiles on Ontario farmers produced by Farm & Food Care Ontario.





by Kim Waalderbos

Mooove on over, ladies. There’s a new diva on the block, and she’s…accessorized. Her momma too.

Cows and calves on Canadian dairy and beef farms are all sporting a pair of ‘earrings’ or ear tags that are unique to them. The cool part about these ear tags is not only are they stylish, but they serve an important purpose too — traceability.

A young dairy calf sports her Canadian national identification ear tag (the round button in her right ear).

These ear tags are part of an industry initiated, industry-led program called the Canadian Cattle Identification Program ( Participants in Canada’s beef, dairy and bison sectors established the program January 1, 2001, with full enforcement (including fines and penalties) since July 1, 2002. Continue reading

FoodLogiQ has signed agreement with Canadian Cattlemen's Association to provide value added traceability solution to its members

Source:Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, 19.dec.08

Calgary, AB — FoodLogiQ, the leading provider of On Demand food safety and traceability software, today announced that they have signed an agreement with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to provide a value added traceability solution to its members.
Continue reading

Canadian dairymen a force for change

By Sarah Trickett, Farmers Weekly (UK), 20/11/2008

It is hard to comprehend the fact that Canadian dairy farmers pay a quota cost of $30,000 (£16,470)/kg of butterfat a day. With an average butterfat at just over 1kg, you are looking at a bill of $45,000 (£24,706)/kg of butterfat a day. Continue reading