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UK traceability software company seeks funding

Happerley's founder says his new agricultural data, traceability and social networking software provides better traceability than the current Red Tractor.

A beef producer and software company owner will launch a product traceability and agricultural producer social networking software in the UK this Friday, and plans to raise an undisclosed amount to expand the operation though venture capital or crowd sourcing.

Happerley’s software works by issuing bar codes to producers that mean their produce can be traced by the consumer from the farm gate and up the value chain.

Founder Matthew Ryder says that his software could be used by any UK and other EU producers who want to market and guarantee the traceability of their product. It will also allow producers to market stock, fodder and other products to fellow farmers, as well as find advance buyers and create private trading and special interest groups. Producers will be able to join for free and given a “passport” that registers their identity on the software, while those further up the value chain will be required to pay a fee.

“Happerley provides an online networking provision in addition to traceability services. Fee paying membership levels for intermediaries, retailers and restaurants [mean] there are multiple revenue streams. Our projections by year three are in the millions,” Ryder said.

He also expects the software will generate a lot of valuable data about agricultural supply chains.

He sees his new business as a challenge to Red Tractor, the food retail industry’s traceability organisation, which he says holds back more information from the consumer and doesn’t always add enough value to premium products.

“Our aim is to create a win win for producers. Great new trading opportunities, consumer visibility and finally some control of their own provenance, ultimately paid for by those who profit from UK producers,” said Ryder.

“I would say that while there is much progress and many startups concerning industry centred traceability software, ours is a unique rounded solution connecting the producer to the consumer and involving every level of the food chain between. It carries the integrity of being producer-driven while involving the consumer too,” Ryder told Agri Investor.

He quoted examples of local butchers and restaurants selling meat they sold as British which had in fact come from Denmark or other countries, saying that accounts of where livestock are reared, and then slaughtered, can muddy how traceable local products are.

“Livestock get moved around sometimes from when they are young to when they are older, and then again when they are slaughtered. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, whether it is chicken from Lithuania or the UK, because then they can make an informed decision on what they are eating.”

As well as producing beef with his wife, Ryder runs his own software company. His co-director at Happerley is Clifford Freeman, a director at Gloucester Born Beef who sold his poultry production company, Freeman’s of Newent, to Cargill in 2008.