- Animal Products: meat
- Farm Business Management: market study, new enterprise development, value added
- Production Systems: local certification
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, partnerships, sustainability measures, values-based supply chains
In 2014, the Survey Research Center at the University of Southern Maine surveyed approximately 600 Maine households on their food buying preferences. When given the choice of buying Maine-raised food or food from “somewhere else”, almost 80% of respondents chose to purchase local or Maine food. The market is responding to this demand however, farmers lack a credible process to verify that meat products are raised or processed locally. As an example, the results of a two-month investigation by the Tampa Bay Times on marketing of locally sourced foods at restaurants in the Tampa, Florida area revealed what is an anecdotally growing issue for consumers nationwide - the marketing of food from out of state or even out of country as “local”.
The purpose of the More Maine Meat Chain of Custody program is to increase availability of, and demand for, Maine born, raised and processed meats by establishing a credible program using Radio Frequency Data Identification (RFID) or other technology to track meat products from farm to retail sale. The NE SARE grant will fund work with an industry-led advisory group to develop an operations manual, business and marketing plan for the program.
Industry input and buy-in to the program will be critical for its implementation and success. Outcomes of the NE SARE grant will include buy-in of groups along the value chain, defining roles for partners such as University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Beef Producers Association and other meat industry groups, and, a viable business model
Project objectives from proposal:
The primary objective of this project is to develop the framework for a cooperative volunteer program that uses Radio Frequency Data Identification (RFID) or other technology and cross sector partnerships to certify Maine born, raised and processed meats and promotes the added value of those products in the marketplace.
Additionally, the project seeks to:
- Build a cross sector network of farmers and food business across the supply chain who can define core components of a cooperative meat traceability program
- Strengthen relationships and information-sharing across the supply chain
- Increase awareness of traceability technology options and applications for small and mid-sized farms
- Build the foundation for implementing a cooperative meat traceability program and companion marketing and promotion campaign
- Build consumer awareness of the value of traceability in verifying born, grown and processed Maine meats and in ensuring the quality of meat products.
- Assure consumers they are receiving the value of a local brand so their efforts to support our Maine Red Meat industries are in fact doing just that.