Technology leads to steak vending machines

Advances in technology are continually altering industry throughout the world and the cattle business is no exception.

Advances in technology are continually altering industry throughout the world and the cattle business is no exception.

One of the most noticeable (visible) advances in the our industry came with the introduction of the RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that are now mandatory on every animal leaving its farm of origin; registered to an individual purchaser at the point of purchase, each tag is unique and therefore that animal is traceable (RFID/reader) back to that owner/farm.

It is an invaluable herd-health-safety, marketing-tool which the large majority of Canadian beef producers view as being a very good investment in the future of their business.

So, for those who might think that we Canucks are often a step behind our southern neighbours (U.S.) you may be surprised to learn that the U.S. and India, two of the world’s major beef-exporting nations, don’t have comprehensive traceability systems in place.

Erin Borror, an economist with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in a BEEF article (Wes Ishmael) stated: “Going forward, it places the U.S. at risk if an animal-disease outbreak occurs in this country, or if import customers impose traceability requirements.”

While it appears that (in traceability) our neighbours have some catching-up to do, they seem to be light years ahead (at times) in other areas as they continue to adapt new technology to deliver the instant service (convenience) that modern day shoppers now demand.

In Odenview, Alabama (The Birmingham News) shoppers can purchase a fresh steak from a carousel-style vending machine in a local convenience store (yes, really) by inserting 1$ or $5 bills or swiping debit/credit cards after which they can choose an eight-ounce sirloin steak for $3.99 or a 12-ounce rib-eye for $5.99 (or other fresh meat products) by pushing the appropriate buttons.

The meat product then drops from the refrigerated unit (sales/restocking info can be monitored with cellphone/technology).

It’s all automated. It’s called the “Smart Butcher.”

Liz Twan is a local rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.