Hacking Meat is an online conversation exploring how can information and technology be used to hack (or reimagine) a more sustainable, profitable and healthy future of meat. Join the conversation and share your ideas or product requests in the comments, on Twitter using #hackmeat, on Facebook or at the Hack//Meat hackathon happening December 7-9 in NYC.
Guest post by Rob O’Donnell of Applegate
As consumers become more informed about our food system through events like “pink slime” they will increasingly ask “What is this stuff?” and “Where does it come from?”
Telling the farm-to-table story for meat will be easier for some to tell than others. For example, the “further-processed” meat story may be a more complex one than the raw meat tale. Similarly, a vertically-integrated company may have an easier time connecting the dots as compared to a company with an outsource model.
The phrase “farm-to-table” implies collaboration. There are handshakes to be made up and down the supply chain. Data connections to be made. But how?
There are plenty of consultants and software vendors out there to help companies with their product traceability efforts. However, smaller sized companies are likely to struggle with the associated costs and challenges. Without a compelling “what’s in it for me,” these companies may either do nothing or start to develop home-grown tools in an attempt to get organized. In developing these tools, the hurdles reveal themselves.
Barriers to the meat traceability process can include:
In order to connect the dots, each partner must have their own house in order. Everyone is dependent on their partner one step up and one step down the supply chain. Any weakness along the way makes the process exponentially difficult for everyone downstream.
There exists a wide chasm between home-grown solutions and automated ERP systems. Could open source solutions help bridge this gap and get more players participating?
What are your “what ifs”?
How else would you solve the “what’s in it for me” dilemma?
What are your thoughts on how these challenges can be tackled?
I have a case of hot dogs waiting for you…
Rob O'Donnell is VP of Digital Media at Applegate, the leader in Organic & Natural meat. He joined Applegate in 1993 and has spent much of his career finding unique ways to use technology to fulfill the Applegate mission. Rob studied music at Berklee College of Music, but these days his performances are limited to entertaining his wife, to the chagrin of his four kids. Follow him @rodonnell on Twitter to see what a geek he can really be.