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16 June 2021

Introducing BePork: a unified label dedicated to top-quality Belgian pork

This year saw the creation of ‘BePork’, a brand new quality label for Belgian Pork. BePork is dedicated to guaranteeing local production and control from feed to fork by uniting all blocks in the production pillar: from feed manufacturers, pig farmers, transport companies and meat processors to points of sale.

Undeniably, BePork has it’s added value on the internal market, but foreign buyers of Belgian meat also benefit from this increase in the standard for Belgian quality Pork.

Liesbet Pluym, quality advisor and coordinator for BePork, talks about the ambitions of the new label, focusing on animal welfare, animal health and sustainability.

From Belgium with love… and quality

BePork is a 100% Belgian story, obviously, but it is aimed at both the Belgian and the foreign market?
Liesbet Pluym: “Originally, since the creation of the quality label formerly known as ‘Certus, in the year 1999,’, we were predominantly focused on Belgium. A few years later we succeeded in finding our place on the German market. Our new BePork label is now perfectly aligned with the German quality assurance system QS and we have acquired solid experience in working with foreign partners and their requirements.

If BePork is a new quality label, what happened to the ‘old’ labels?
Liesbet Pluym: “BePork is actually the new manifestation of different previous quality labels. There used to be two different ones: ‘Certus’, the quality label for pork that I mentioned earlier and ‘CodiplanPLUS’, a label for livestock.

Those two have now merged into one efficient and generic quality system that oversees every link in the production and distribution chain of pork. So this is a signature Belgian story, every step of the way.

We want to elevate Belgian pork, that already meets high legal requirements, to a new standard.

Added value of BePork throughout the whole production chain

‘Going above and beyond’ general requirements of food quality is a way of creating added value?
Liesbet Pluym: “Exactly. Actually, it is just one of the ways in which we try to create added value, but it’s a strong one. It is one of our core ambitions.

We want to elevate Belgian pork, that already meets high legal requirements, to a new standard with focus on quality, through animal welfare, animal health and sustainability. The definition of added value is an evolving one. The dynamic nature of the themes we focus on requires to continuously pioneer and to remain market-oriented, while responding to changing economic and social needs. The switch to one unified label, is a win for everyone: we now have a centralized organization with a broad acceptance, that offers wide possibilities for tailor-made differentiation. In Belgium, but also abroad, should that need occur.

Our philosophy is catching on quickly: over 80% of Belgian pig stock is BePork-regulated. BePork has become a benchmark that the whole Belgian sector is orientated on.

Is this system one of a kind?
Liesbet Pluym: “There are other systems that incorporate every link in the production of pork as well, but what makes BePork unique, is that we offer a unified market standard as well as the possibility for companies in that production chain to add their own accents. Let’s take domestic retailers, for example. They have the possibility to add specific accents and present themselves in a more diversified way to the market. If a foreign costumer would have a similar question, we would be glad to discuss the possibilities.

A big bonus

What makes BePork really unique?
Liesbet Pluym: “It’s the combination of two things: tailored applicability and a unique tracking and tracing system. To be honest, exceeding basic legal requirements is not that spectacular all by itself, although the Belgian standards are higher than average worldwide. But combined with the tailoring possibilities and the guarantees provided by our signature tracking and tracing, we do have something quite special to offer.

Belgian companies can specifically benefit from the fact that our BePork conditions incorporate the export conditions for a certain number of countries. As a result, BePork gives the Belgian meat suppliers a system that makes it even more manageable to meet the demands of foreign customers.

The next step can only be taken if the previous one has been approved and all necessary information has been provided.

How does that tracking and tracing system work?
Liesbet Pluym: “We created a chain that consists of smaller ‘control links’. Each time a party delivers to the next one in the production or distribution chain, information is uploaded on a digital platform called ‘Tracy’. The next step can only be taken if the previous one has been approved and all necessary information has been provided; digitally of course.

When a pig farmer delivers to the slaughterhouse, for instance, he draws up an initial digital form stating how many animals are being transported exactly, where they came from, what slaughterhouse they are transported to, and by which transportation company, vehicle and driver they have been transported.

The form is uploaded digitally and all parties in the food chain need to be certified to be able to continue. This procedure goes on throughout the entire chain. For customers who want to add specific accents to the BePork standard, tailormade tracking and tracing throughout the entire chain is possible.

One of the strongpoints of ’Tracy’ is the sheer speed of it: we can see in real-time who is involved, and where – so we can intervene really quickly if needed.

In the near future: Company Health Plan

So now, that tasty, high-quality Belgian pork has almost reached the final destination in its journey from feed to fork. But BePork’s involvement doesn’t end there, does it?
Liesbet Pluym: “No, it doesn’t. Our society evolves and today we see new themes emerge, such as animal welfare, sustainability, and animal health.

So there are a lot of levels on which BePork needs to be involved and dedicated to ensuring the highest possible quality and the best possible circumstances for the production, transportation and distribution of Belgian pork.


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