Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • Forced labor and child labor occur in the cattle sector around the world. However, the nature of the risk – for example, whether the primary risk is child labor associated with animal husbandry or forced labor associated with slaughtering – depends largely on specific geographies in the supply chain. Therefore, supply chain mapping of the geographic footprint of production is an important first step and can support comprehensive risk screening to identify the highest risk areas of production in a supply chain. High-risk areas can then be prioritized for heightened due diligence processes, including on-the-ground assessments when necessary.
  • Labor risks occur at the breeding, rearing, and fattening stages of cattle production, as well as in slaughtering/processing. (For more information, see the beef profile). Given the multiple levels of risk, traceability systems should be able to trace products to the farm level and should include slaughtering and meat processing facilities.  
  • Traditional identity preservation product tracking methods for cattle involve physical tags attached or applied to the livestock to facilitate their tracing through the supply chain. While these mechanisms may be suitable for tracing individual animals, they are vulnerable to tampering and are not always viable following the transformation of cattle into beef or leather. Cattle traceability using tags should be capable of data-sharing and interoperability with other traceability methods and technologies to facilitate full supply chain traceability.
  • Traceability systems that are focused on food safety and the verification of the type of meat and that allow tracing back to the farm and processing level can be leveraged to map supply chains and identify specific worksites that need to be further assessed for labor conditions. 

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Child Labor cited by U.S. Government

Risk of Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by other source

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Complex/opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Cattle Production

Raising cattle for slaughter and use in the beef and leather industries involves three stages of production.24Campos, A. and Locatelli, P. “Slave Labor in Brazil’s Meat Industry.” Repórter Brasil, January 2021  The first stage is breeding, which includes the birth of a calf and its growth until weaning, which occurs between six and eight months of age.25Campos, A. and Locatelli, P. “Slave Labor in Brazil’s Meat Industry.” Repórter Brasil, January 2021 The second stage is rearing, which lasts from weaning until the reproductive stage for female cows and the fattening stage for males.26Campos, A. and Locatelli, P. “Slave Labor in Brazil’s Meat Industry.” Repórter Brasil, January 2021   This is the longest stage in production; for example, for cows slaughtered at four years of age, this stage can last about two and a half years.27Campos, A. and Locatelli, P. “Slave Labor in Brazil’s Meat Industry.” Repórter Brasil, January 2021 The final stage, fattening, prepares steers (male cows that have been castrated) for slaughter by increasing their weight to increase production volume.28Campos, A. and Locatelli, P. “Slave Labor in Brazil’s Meat Industry.” Repórter Brasil, January 2021





Associated Upstream Goods with Labor Risk

Cottonseed, which can be used as feed for livestock, can be a by-product of cotton production. Both cottonseed and cotton are associated with child and forced labor in some geographies.

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors

Textiles Apparel and Luxury Goods

Leather is made from cattle and used in the production of leather goods.

Food and Beverage

Cattle is used for the production of beef for human consumption.

Top Global Countries

  1. France29List of exporters for the selected product in 2021. Product : 010229 Live cattle (excluding pure-bred for breeding). ITC Trade Map,
  2. Australia
  3. Canada
  4. United States of America
  5. Mexico
  6. Spain
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Romania
  9. Colombia
  10. Portugal
  1. Brazil30Crops and livestock products. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
  2. India
  3. United States of America
  4. Ethiopia
  5. China
  6. Argentina
  7. Pakistan
  8. Mexico
  9. Chad
  10. Sudan

Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Cattle