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November 28, 2016

Vion, Albert Heijn launch trial pork origin labelling scheme

Netherlands-based meat processor Vion has teamed up with the country's Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organization (ZLTO) and retailer Albert Heijn to support a Dutch pilot origin labelling scheme for pork products.

Netherlands-based meat processor Vion has teamed up with the country’s Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organization (ZLTO) and retailer Albert Heijn to support a Dutch pilot origin labelling scheme for pork products.

Vion said the trial initiative, which is being backed by the Dutch government through funding from the economic affairs ministry, aims to “give consumers a better understanding of where their pork comes from” by displaying QR codes on various pork products sold by Albert Heijn.

As of 21 November, shoppers have been able to scan the codes with their smartphone to download product origin details from a website featuring pig farmers who are part of Vion’s ‘Good Farming Star’ programme, which benchmarks attention to animal welfare.

In the coming weeks, QR codes will be displayed on packages of around 200,000 pork products under the Better Life label for consumers to obtain “specific information on the method of production”, Vion said. 

The move comes as Vion said the Netherlands agriculture minister Martijn van Dam is drawing up proposals for legislators aimed at “increasing transparency in the food chain”. According to Vion, van Dam and the country’s Sustainable Food Alliance is considering creating a “central database” to collect details relating to the composition, origin and processing of food products. 

Marit van Egmond, director of merchandising and sourcing at Albert Heijn, Ahold Delhaize’s flagship chain in the Netherlands,? said: “We work with 150 Dutch pig farmers who supply us. Because we have direct contact with our farmers, we can give customers insight into the origin of meat from farm to fork. Customers find it increasingly important: they want to know where the food comes from which they purchase from us.”

Vion director of quality Bert Urlings said the company planned to extend the origin labelling scheme to other products in the new year.

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