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Saigon Launches New App to Track Pork's Origin

From now on, Saigoneers can get to know their pork better via a brand-new app that displays the origin of the protein along with other useful information.

On December 16, after a week of delay, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade unveiled Te-Food, a mobile application dedicated to informing customers of the origin of their meat cuts.

According to the project’s website, this new effort starts right from pig ranches, where all animals are outfitted with trackers and meat cuts are tagged with bar and QR codes before they reach points of purchase such as supermarkets. By scanning the codes with their phones, Saigon’s consumers will be able to obtain information regarding the pig’s home ranch as well as how it was reared.

The app is the brainchild of the Ho Chi Minh City High-Tech Association, which plans to keep the swine database for up to 10 years. According to the plan, the project will involve 12 slaughterhouses in the city, two wholesale markets – Binh Dien and Hoc Mon – and five large local markets, including Ben Thanh, Hoa Binh, Bau Cat, Thai Binh and An Dong.

Supermarket chains like Co.opmart, Satra, Vissan and Sagrifoods will also participate in the current trial, which includes a total of 349 locations around the city, according to Saigon Giai Phong. The association may extend the service to other farm products such as fruits and vegetables should the project prove to be successful and well-received.

Director of the Department of Industry and Trade Pham Thanh Kien told Tuoi Tre in an interview that the trial period began on December 16 and the system will be continually improved. He added that for now, only pork purchased from supermarkets can be assessed by the app but the service will soon extend to more traditional markets.

According to the news source, just two hours after the pilot started, meat aisles in many supermarkets around the city were already overwhelmed by shoppers.

Loan, a cashier at the store, told Tuoi Tre it takes a full day to sell 400 kilograms of [pork] on average, but on the day of the system's debut, Co.opmart Quang Trung sold over 300 kilograms between 7am and 9am.

It seems that businesses are warming up to the idea as well. Bui Huy Binh, CEO of TraceVerified, a company that specializes in tracking services, shared with Nguoi Lao Dong that despite some initial reservations, business owners in the industry have contacted his firm for information about similar technology.

He added that the biggest challenge for such projects is the nature of the product itself. In Vietnam, shoppers prefer to buy fresh pork that’s prepared in front of them, while in order to optimize origin-tracking, the meat must be separated into portions right at the abattoir. Currently, the market for pre-packaged meat in the country is still small, as only consumers from wealthier segments buy meat this way.

[Photo via YouTube user food te]

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