The research network FIN-Q.NRW was chosen as one of seven winners at the end of 2008 within the framework of the competition "Cluster Ernährung NRW", a food processing initiative sponsored by the German Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (MUNLV). The network project with a budget of almost three million euros for the first time managed to unite the three "heavyweights" of the meat industry (Tönnies, the Vion Food Group and Westfleisch) in a consortium together with six other partners from NRW.
Within the framework of the project, amongst other things a research and development database is being set up at the University of Bonn, which all economic partners will be able to access via an Internet portal for further developing their own quality and risk management systems. The important information contained in this database particularly relates to continuous improvements for fulfilling guarantees and international standards in animal protection, in animal health and in food safety. Doing away with the castration of piglets and all related measures at all levels of the value-added chain is the latest example for the changes in the industry. Altogether three instruments are being developed for this purpose.
- A simulation model for estimating the cost and benefit of entering smell, taste and freshness parameters in sorting processes of the slaughtering and processing stage.
- A planning model for evaluating alternative operations in organising inter-company information and communication systems for supporting risk-oriented, cross-level testing strategies.
- A process model for auditing and certifying guarantee services. For instance, how can guarantees be passed on to the retailing industry with regard to an energy-conscious production of meat and animal feedstuffs or species-appropriate husbandry?
To boost export opportunities and tap new markets, the onus is on industry-specific CRS (Corporate Social Responsibility) standards, where a high health status of animal husbandry enterprises and coordinated voluntary measures in preventive consumer protection are of paramount importance.