On July 1 electronic veterinary certification of finished dairy products became mandatory. The main part of the commodity items of the industry will come into operation with the system since November 1. Two weeks later, it became known that a pilot project for the labeling of dairy products was launched on July 15. Manufacturers are against duplication of control systems. The authorities have not made a decision yet, but the Rosselkhoznadzor is of the opinion that EVC is necessary for everyone.
SUCH DIFFERENT TRACEABILITY
The main work of dairy producers in the electronic veterinary certification or EVC is implemented through the program “Mercury". According to the description of the program on the official site of the Rosselkhoznadzor, it allows to renounce paper veterinary certificates forever and to create a complete system of traceability of products in Russia.
Does the system provide “traceability"? In the idealized version according to the same representatives of the Rosselkhoznadzor it is providing consumers and regulatory authorities with information from the field to the counter. Does the consumer know anything about milk due to “Mercury”? No. Has anything changed for the manufacturer? It became more difficult to work in the Internet because of imperfection of the regulatory framework of the veterinary system.
“I believe that “Mercury” is a good system, if the state authorities do not use it “for show”. Because otherwise nothing will work, - said the owner of the plant “Umalat" Alexey Martynenko. – We will do what is required of us, but how the state authorities will handle it, how they will interpret it is a big question”.
As "Kommersant" reported earlier, in Danone they say that they were ready to participate in the pilot project on labeling, but now "all the forces of the company" are aimed at the introduction of "Mercury". PepsiCo also stated that they are not participating in the experiment and are preparing to expansion of EVC. The postponement of EVC is considered justified, especially when there is no final decision by the government on which system to use for the industry.
The pilot project is the best opportunity for market participants to test the technology and prepare for mandatory labeling in a comfortable mode, according to the CATD. In July, the Russian government added dairy products to the list of goods subject to mandatory labeling. According to the resolution of the government, milk and cream, milk and cream powder, fermented dairy products (kefir, yogurt, etc.), whey, butter, cheese, cottage cheese and other products are planned for labeling. According to sources, the labeling of finished products will be mandatory since March 1, 2020.
The “Honest mark" system differs from EVC, which is a shareware product. In the labeling, the digital two-dimensional code Data Matrix will be applied to individual product categories. Among them there is milk, cream, condensed milk, yogurt, kefir, butter, ice cream, cheese and cottage cheese.
In addition, the CATD (The Center for advanced technology development, established by “Rostech”, LLC “Holding company USM" of Alisher Usmanov and “Elvis-plus group” of Alexander Galitsky) emphasize that the work within the “pilot project” will be built in such a way as to eliminate duplication of functions of the veterinary certification system “Mercury”. For this purpose the integration of the two systems will be implemented. “Mercury” will control the raw materials to the plant, and “Honest mark” will trace each unit of finished products to sale at the checkout. The exchange of data will allow the full tracing of products and guarantee their safety for the population.
The Rosselkhoznadzor did not comment on the integration of the two systems. However, previously the Deputy Head of the Rosselkhoznadzor Nikolay Vlasov stressed that he has nothing against the interaction of the two systems. The Rosselkhoznadzor has not provided official comments about the integration and lack of duplication. The service believes that EVC will help to reduce the amount of falsification and to identify unsafe dairy products. Though it is unclear in which way. However, not so long ago, the Rossekhoznadzor developed a procedure for accounting of fat and protein percentage in the dairy industry. It is expected that on the basis of this set of rules, algorithms will be developed, which will be implemented in the Veterinary Information System and which will be further guided by the Department.
“The CATD, as well as representatives of the business community are against duplication of functions of the two systems. We stand for integration with “Mercury”, which will allow systems to enrich each other", said Revaz Yusupov, Deputy Director of the CATD.
“The labeling code includes important information about the product, thanks to which a trading network may automatically control not only the authenticity of the product, but also to exclude the possibility of selling an expired product, which is also important to the buyer”, commented the founder of the company “Galaktika” Igor Du.
“The quality of the product is a priority for us. We guarantee that only natural milk is used in our products, and we support the initiative to introduce mandatory labeling, which will allow the buyer to distinguish such products on the store shelf. The most modern equipment is used in the production. Of course, it will be necessary to equip the line to work with labeling, but we see this as an advantage for the brand of environmentally friendly dairy products”, — said the Director of the dairy plant “Vakinskoe Agro” Alik Mukhamadeev.
None of the parties has given a clear explanation what labeling is required for besides reputation factors and why it should be mandatory.
As Igor Du noted in an interview with The DairyNews, first of all labeling is necessary in order to remove the falsification. According to the expert, about 20 percent of dairy products on the shelves are falsified. This leads to many problems – the growth of the shadow economy, and unbalanced, unfair competition.
“The task of the initiative is to fight this. It's not about PR. There are many advantages of labeling, both for buyers and manufacturers. For example, we can communicate with each customer individually, online. They can track products to shelves in stores. I would call it “smart” trading. And there is great future behind this, it is an inevitable thing, and within a couple of years we will see this", believes Igor Du.
Indeed, as world practice shows, consumption trends indicate confidence in the manufacturer, which provides convenient digital access to information about the product. In China, for example, manufacturers are also confident that the labeling will help to avoid falsification of the kind when counterfeiting branded products of well-known manufacturers or production is carried out in hiding.
The practice of applying QR codes on the packaging of products is common in Germany, where it is also a kind of PR-move that popularizes the product among the young consumer.
The Danish co-op Arla has a program “Arlaguardian”, which is designed to ensure quality “from farm to fork". It is physically impossible to know from which cow the milk came for a particular piece of cheese. But the program provides full quality control. When collecting milk, samples are taken at the farm and tests are carried out upon arrival at the dairy. Any deviation means disposal of the whole batch and a fine to the farmer.
By the way, Soyuzmoloko estimates the additional costs for the implementation of the labeling system at more than 25 billion rubles of investment costs and more than 20 billion rubles of annual operating costs.
“The amount of investment in the labeling project on the part of both the system operator and the dairy industry can be announced only after the completion of the study of most production sites, this process has not been completed yet. But now we can say that the presented estimates are overestimated several times”, noted in the press service of the CATD.