World’s first smart beef contract to transform UK farming

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British beef consumers will soon be able to enjoy more environmentally friendly, better quality meat on their plates, thanks to the world’s first smart, data-driven beef contract.

In a development which is set to transform the British beef industry, tech company Breedr has partnered with beef processor Dunbia to launch the UK’s first ever long-term contract based on lifetime animal data.

With price certainty giving producers confidence to invest, and the data used to improve efficiencies throughout the supply chain, this will not only reduce the industry’s environmental footprint but also improve the consistency and quality of the beef on your plate.

Founded in 2018, the UK company raised £2.2m in funding led by LocalGlobe, and with support from Innovate UK has quickly become one of the national’s leading agri-tech companies. It now has plans to roll its digital platform out worldwide, revolutionising global livestock supply chains.

According to Ian Wheal, founder of Breedr, if every beef farmer in the UK used the free app to its potential the industry would save millions of tonnes of feed a year and significantly reduce the sector’s carbon footprint. Cattle would finish five months earlier, and 24% more would hit the target specification, improving the consistency and quality of beef.

Risk management

“Beef prices are notoriously volatile, and yet farmers have to invest in stock which won’t be sold for at least 18 months – there are no risk management options,” he adds.

“Until now: By making better use of data farmers can buy and sell with transparency, predict growth rates, and know that they’re supplying the processor with what they want – ensuring a secure end market and price.”

The contract with Dunbia is worth more than £130m to British beef producers over the next seven years, and offers lifetime pricing as well as a bonus if the market moves in the producer’s favour. Rearers can also opt to be paid on a per kg growth basis, eliminating the need for capital outlay on youngstock.

Andrew Smyth, head of procurement at Dunbia, explains: “Through working with Breedr we are supporting our beef supply base to adapt to future challenges, helping deliver a consistent product to our customers and building innovation, increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact.”

The world’s first digital exchange for livestock, Breedr is already enabling a change in British farming, with over 2,000 members and 120,000 registered animals. It recently launched a data-based live trading platform, enabling producers to buy and sell from other farmers with certainty.

Adam Quinney, chair of beef and lamb at AHDB, explains: “At AHDB we are very supportive of technology that is helping bring certainty, and collaboration between farmer groups in the supply chain.

British innovation

“The benefit of these supply chains encourages improvements to genetics, farm productivity and therefore environmental impact in the long term. Breedr is a good example of British innovation utilising technology to develop supply chains for farmers and processors alike.”

By collating data on genetics, growth rates, health, and carcass grades, producers can identify the most productive breeding lines and management methods, optimising productivity throughout the supply chain.

“These producers are embracing the empowerment that comes with data-backed trading,” says Mr Wheal. “Through this, they are able to form integrated supply chains which lead to improved efficiencies, firmly founded on the knowledge that what they’re buying is what they get, and with a price certainty at the end of it.

“With Brexit, the whole food industry is facing an uncertain time – but British agriculture is innovating to meet UK and global needs – by working together farmers have the power to drive this positive change.”

Katrina Hayter, challenge director for the Transforming Food Production challenge at Innovate UK, adds: “We’re always searching for exciting and world-leading technologies that will drive agricultural productivity and create a greener and more sustainable food system in the UK. Breedr ticks all of these boxes.

“We are proud to support solutions that bring financial certainty to farmers, giving them the confidence to reinvest and drive further innovation – so we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Breedr as their technology develops.”

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