2015.11 (Issue No. 281)
In recent years, food safety incidents have put the issue under the spotlight and have gradually changed Taiwanese people’s consumption habit. More and more consumers are willing to purchase agricultural products with label or certificate of origin. Thus, in order to boost local production and consumption of livestock product, the Council of Agriculture (COA) actively promoted the labeling and production traceability system of cattle and goat products, which serve as a reference basis for local consumers when purchasing livestock and dairy products. Moreover, the system helps consumers to differentiate between domestic and imported products.
II. Principal livestock production, import, and consumption in Taiwan
According to the 2014 Agricultural Statistical Annual Report,
1. Pork: The pig on farm in Taiwan is approximately 5.55 million, while the number supplied to slaughterhouses is roughly 8.07 million which yield up to 815,000 metric tons of carcasses. On the other hand, the total amount of imported pork (including fresh chilled and frozen) is in the vicinity of 48,000 metric tons, which in turn mainly breaks down to 17,000 metric tons from Canada (35%), 11,000 metric tons from Denmark (24%), 7,000 metric tons from Netherlands (15%), and 6,800 metric tons from the United States (14%). The self-sufficiency ratio of domestic pork is approximately 93%.
2. Beef: The Taiwanese beef industry relies primarily on the Holstein breed which dual purpose is for dairy and beef use. The cattle on farm is approximately 33,000, while the number supplied to slaughterhouses is roughly 34,000 which yield up to 6,800 metric tons of carcasses. On the other hand, the total amount of imported beef (including fresh chilled and frozen) is in the vicinity of 99,000 metric tons, which in turn mainly breaks down to 37,000 metric tons from Australia (37%), 33,000 metric tons from the United States (34%), and 20,000 metric tons from New Zealand (20%). The self-sufficiency ratio of domestic beef is approximately 6%.
3. Goat meat: The Taiwanese goat industry is mainly based on Nubian crossbred wether, wether, and ewe. The goat on farm in Taiwan is approximately 105,000, while the number supplied to slaughterhouses is roughly 71,000 which yield up to 2,000 metric tons of carcasses. On the other hand, the total amount of imported goat meat (including fresh chilled and frozen) is in the vicinity of 23,000 metric tons, which in turn breaks down to 17,000 metric tons from Australia (75%), and 6,000 metric tons from New Zealand (25%). The self-sufficiency ratio of domestic goat meat is approximately 8%.
4. Cattle and goat's milk: The Taiwanese dairy cattle industry is based on Holstein breed. The dairy cattle on farm is approximately 128,000, which in turn yield 363,000 metric tons of raw milk annually. Most of the raw milk is sold in liquid form, and 86% of it is used for the production of fresh milk which gives an annual sale of 308,600 metric tons. The Taiwanese dairy goat industry is mainly composed of the following breeds: Alpine, Saanen, Toggenburg, and Nubian. Currently the number of dairy goat on farm is approximately 52,000 and production of goat's milk is about 16,000 metric tons. 5. The total annual consumption per capita of meat (not including fish) in Taiwan is 77.2 kilograms, among which pork takes up 37.3 kilograms (48.3%) followed by poultry 33.8 kg (43.8%) and beef 4.8 kg (6.3%). As for the total annual consumption per capita of fresh milk is around 17 kilograms.
III. Cattle and goat product label, and beef production traceability system
In order to elevate the quality of livestock products and encourage manufacturers to utilize domestic livestock products as raw materials so that the interests of farmers and consumers can be protected, the COA not only issued the “Fresh Milk Label” (picture 1) to certify that the fresh milk was produced by using domestic raw milk, but also allow manufacturers seeking to establish branding identification in the market to apply for certification label and collective label through industry associations. For instance, the Taiwan Fresh Goat Meat (FGM) and the Good Goat's Milk (GGM) labels are issued by the Goat Farmer Association R.O.C., while the Taiwan Beef Label is issued by the Taiwan Beef Industry Development Association (Picture 2, 3, and 4). On the other hand, the COA has introduced the beef production traceability system since November 2012, which provides consumers with relevant information about domestic beef production, slaughtering, and sales for reference when purchasing beef products. All these measures aim to prevent the possible confusion created by merchants mixing imported dairy and meat products to fake as domestic livestock products.
Cattle and goat product label and production traceability system are explained below:
1. Fresh Milk Label: The COA has been promoting the campaign for Fresh Milk Label since 1986 and issued label stickers for the products according to the raw milk intake of the dairy factory, making it easier for the authorities to monitor the production of fresh milk. On the other hand, the Fresh Milk Label was registered and its Guidelines were promulgated in 1999. Registered dairy factories with raw milk contract suppliers in the country were encouraged to actively participate in the program voluntarily, and by the end of September 2015, 18 dairy manufacturers joined the program. Currently, products with Fresh Milk Label take up 97% of all fresh milk products sold on the market. The coverage ratio is relatively high, and in recent years there are an average of 350 million labels issued annually. This serves as an industry first among agricultural certification labels, and has already earned the trust and recognition from the general public.
2. Taiwan Fresh Goat Meat Label (FGM): The COA counseled the Goat Farmer Association R.O.C. in drafting the Domestic Goat Product Label Certification and Application Guideline and designing the Taiwan Fresh Goat Meat Label (FGM). Thereafter, domestic goat meat hot pot restaurants and sellers, or goat meat vendors are encouraged to apply the FGM label and only sell meat from domestic goats slaughtered in legal slaughterhouses, not mixed with imported goat meats or other meats. By the end of September 2015, there were 65 stores that have passed the Taiwan Fresh Goat Meat certification. The council would continue to encourage more establishments to join the program and increase the market share of domestic goat meat.
3. Good Goat's Milk Label (GGM): The COA counseled the Goat Farmer Association R.O.C. in drafting the Manual of Application for Good Goat's Milk Label (GGM) in August 2001. By using the implementation of Fresh Milk Label as model, the Goat Farmer Association processed the application for GGM from goat milk businesses (including independent goat milk factories or subcontracted goat milk processing plants). By the end of September 2015, a total of 13 goat milk manufacturers have passed GGM certification, and by the end of 2014, GGM certified products take up 81% of all goat milk in the domestic market. Every year 42 million GGM labels are issued, and so far over 620 million GGM labels have been issued in total.
4. Taiwan Beef Label: The COA counseled Taiwan Beef Industry Development Association in drafting the Taiwan Beef Label Certification Standards and exercising relevant duties, such as counseling and processing the applications for the usage of Taiwan Beef Label from beef butchers and vendors. The label endorses Taiwan's high quality and safe beef, and aims to boost domestic production and consumption but most importantly, to differentiate from imported beef. The regulation clearly demands applicants to exclusively sell domestic beef and must not simultaneously sell imported beef. By the end of September 2015, 39 exclusive stores have been visited and inspected for compliance. The program proves to be beneficial in stabilizing domestic beef market and price.
Picture 1: Fresh Milk Label
Picture 2: Taiwan Fresh Goat Meat Label
Picture 3: Good Goat's Milk Label
Picture 4: Taiwan Beef Label
5. Taiwan Beef Traceability System: The COA not only promotes the Taiwan Beef Label but also the Taiwan Beef Traceability System since 2013. The system advises farms to apply ear tags for all cattle, establish individual cattle identity record in cloud database. Through the trace number on the ear tag which leads to information about farm, slaughterhouse, and distribution, consumers are able to trace the cattle’s slaughter date, farm of origin, and slaughterhouse (Picture 5). Since the system’s implementation until the end of 2014, the production and slaughtering cloud database has already accumulated 150,000 entries. Moreover, the number of removed cattle ID record coincided 100% with that of the cattle slaughtered, and 8 exclusive traceable Taiwan Beef retailing shops were established (Picture 6). The system is also effective in distinguishing domestic from imported beef on the market, therefore accomplishing the goal of boosting domestic production and distribution while increasing domestic beef industry’s competitiveness.
Picture 5: Diagram explaining the Taiwan Beef Traceability System
IV. Cattle and goat product production and certification system
In order to improve the quality and safety of agricultural and derived processed product, the COA promulgated the Agricultural Production and Certification Act and promoted the Traceable Agricultural Products (TAP) and Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) systems.
The COA positively promoted traceable livestock product certification system, and had entrusted the National Animal Industry Foundation (NAIF) and Agricultural Technology Research Institute (ATRI) with the task of carrying out beef, cattle milk, and goat meat product certification. By the end of September 2015, there were 13 beef and 2 dairy factories that had obtained certification (Picture 7 and 8). On the other hand, the Council had also entrusted the CAS Association with organizing CAS promotional campaign and CAS certification related application matters (Picture 10). Until the end of September 2015, 1 beef shop and 12 dairy factories (10 cattle milk and 2 goat milk) had obtained certification.
For the purpose of elevating the quality of livestock traceability system and its certified products, the COA continues to subsidize municipal and county governments for carrying out administrative inspection and random product quality check on certified livestock farms, slaughterhouses, meat-packing facilities, and sales points. In the future the COA will continue to organize relevant promotional events about livestock product certification as well as administrative inspection on products to ensure domestic livestock product quality and increase consumer's awareness and support on domestic livestock products.
Picture 6: Taiwan Beef Shop
Picture 7: Traceable beef product
Picture 8: Traceable milk product
Picture 9: CAS Label
Picture 10: CAS Hong Jing Royal Cattle Store
V. The value of enforcing label, certification, and production traceability system
1. Effectively achieving market segmentation between domestic and imported product: Through the implementation of certification label and mark of origin, consumers are able to effectively identify products. The systems protect the interests of both producers and consumers, and can be favorable for the promotion of local production and consumption.
2. Increasing the safety of livestock product: When problems with agricultural products occur, it is possible to quickly track down the cause and product source so that the responsibility of each party involved may be clearly determined. The application of identification label or number on product management could facilitate information relay during the process of production and improve product quality and safety.
3. Improving product production and business management technology: In addition to the integration of label, certification, and production traceability system into production, consumers' growing demand on the quality of domestic livestock products would encourage the industry to invest in novel production systems and more sophisticated management methods in order to elevate overall farming management efficiency, and expedite industrial upgrading.
4. Raising profit for the industry and promote mutual trust with the consumers: Producers could establish brand image, build up product trustworthiness, meet consumers’ demand, and increase product competitiveness. On the other hand, consumers are guaranteed to eat healthy food when they purchase certified and safe livestock products with transparent information.
In order to protect consumer's interests and promote the industry’s sustainability, the COA has been advocating relevant cattle and goat product label, certification, and production traceability system. It has also established multiple identification measures, encouraged more farmers to participate, and offered better identification references to the consumers. For the efforts and accomplishments mentioned above, the Council has earned nationwide recognition and trust. It would proceed to reinforce administrative and tracing management so as to ensure the authoritative credibility of label and certification systems which can effectively differentiate domestic from the imported products. In the future, besides reinforcing the management of current labeling system, the COA will also intensify the promotion of domestic livestock product labeling and media communication, hoping to create a win-win situation for both producers and consumers.