Proof of integrity from farm to market
VelTrak is a fully electronic, web-based system that enables NZ velvet to be tracked and traced each step of the way from the farm to the market (and vice-versa).
Overseas market regulators and New Zealand’s Animal Products Act require rapid and accurate traceability for all animal-based food products. DINZ has developed VelTrak to do this, using technology designed specifically for deer velvet.
VelTrak builds on the great work done by farmers to upgrade their sheds and freezers to comply with the MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS). When customers buy a stick of NZ velvet that carries a black VelTrak tag they know it comes from a quality assured NZ farm and meets our stringent animal welfare and food safety standards.
Major health food companies in South Korea welcome VelTrak because it provides them with the proof of integrity they need to protect the reputation of their brands. Because other producing countries do not offer this, it is expected to strengthen the premium position NZ velvet now enjoys in South Korea over velvet from elsewhere. It also helps our velvet exporters and DINZ to grow the market for velvet-based health foods from brand-named companies across Asia.
VelTrak currently provides customers with proof of integrity from farm to market, but it has been designed to support future marketing initiatives that will help keep NZ velvet several steps ahead of the competition. Lookout for exciting developments in the years ahead.
Log in to the VelTrak website here >>
Everyone involved in the velvet supply chain must be registered with VelTrak in order to sell or trade in velvet for human consumption. This includes deer farms, vet practices and businesses involved in velvet removal, procurement, warehousing, processing and packing for export.
To register with VelTrak, ring 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872).
Every stick of velvet that can securely carry a tag must be tagged by the farmer with a black VelTrak tag before the velvet leaves the farm. Spiker or regrowth velvet that cannot be securely tagged should be placed in a clean bag with a VelTrak tag attached.
Each VelTrak tag carries a barcode and an embedded RFID UHF chip. The chip and the barcode carry a number that’s unique to the tag.
Vet practices allocate VelTrak tags to their farmer clients after recording the tag numbers against the farm on the VelTrak website.
The tags are scanned by the velvet buyer at purchase, or by the receiving packhouse, using a UHF scanner. This process records the tag on the VelTrak system and automatically generates an electronic Velvet Status Declaration (VSD) for the farmer to approve. Farmers do not need to scan the tags, record tag numbers or fill out a paper-based VSD anymore.
VelTrak is a web-based application (a website) that can be accessed from a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Each user must have a unique email address. This is their ID for logging on. If a deer farmer also works as a deer vet, or as a velvet buyer, they need a separate email address for each of these business activities.
Farmers and vets do not need to install any special software to access the website. Velvet buyers and packhouses need only to install software to support the scanning of velvet tags and the generation of electronic Velvet Status Declarations for farmer approval.
To register with VelTrak, please ring 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872).
In order for a farmer to sell their velvet into the human food chain, they must be registered with VelTrak and tag their velvet with black VelTrak UHF RFID tags. This applies to farmers who are NVSB-accredited to do their own velvetting, as well as those who get a vet to do their velvetting.
How to register
To register a farm with VelTrak, please ring DINZ on 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872). Once DINZ has checked that your farm is not already registered under a different name, they will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Registration only takes 5 minutes but it’s important to complete all the fields. In particular, don’t forget to select a veterinary practice, so that your farm name appears in the practice’s list of clients on VelTrak. This will enable them to order VelTrak tags for your farm.
Once a primary contact for a farm is registered, that person can invite other members of their farm team to register – either as a ‘regular’ user or ‘super’ user. Users in both roles can access all farm business functions in VelTrak, except Manage/Business Details and Manage/Users. These functions can be accessed only by super users.
- Log onto https://veltrak.velvet.org.nz
- Select the MANAGE drop down arrow on the top right of your screen
- Select BUSINESS DETAILS and fill in the three categories:
- Choose your vet practice
- Fill in your chosen phone number
- Enter your NAIT number.
- Select USERS
- Add new staff and specify their roles
- Remove former staff
Once you have provided the required information, click on the ‘save’ button to save your changes.
VelTrak is designed to make compliance easy for farmers. You don’t need to fill out a paper VSD or record tag numbers – unless you wish to for farm management reasons.
Every stick of velvet that can securely carry a tag must be tagged with a black VelTrak tag before it leaves the farm. Velvet that cannot be securely tagged, including smaller sticks of spiker or regrowth, must be placed in a clean bag with a VelTrak tag attached to the bag.
Left-over blue tags from previous seasons are no longer valid and should be destroyed. But any black tags left over at the end of one season can be carried over to the next.
Tags are allocated to your farm by your vet practice and recorded on the VelTrak website. The practice does this either by scanning the barcodes on the tags or by entering individual barcode numbers.
The tags are next scanned and recorded by the velvet buyer, or the receiving packhouse, using a UHF scanner. A draft eVSD is then generated in VelTrak for you to approve.
With a private sale on a farm that has internet access, the eVSD can be generated almost immediately by the buyer. With firms that use a central depot or packhouse, it may take a few days before the eVSD is generated.
The person buying or picking up velvet from your farm should advise you when to expect the email notifying you that an eVSD is ready for you to approve. This approval must be done on the VelTrak website. This is the only way to approve your eVSDs.
Once you have approved the eVSD for a consignment, your velvet can move to the next step in the supply chain. It can then be sold and you can be paid. For these reasons it is critical that you approve your eVSDs promptly (see panel below).
The VelTrak website also allows you to:
- Update your business details
- Add and remove users on your farm account
- Check how many tags you have in stock
- Check that your vet has correctly recorded the number of tags you have ordered
- Track all tags that have left your farm by date and receiver/buyer. This is an important audit tool
- Check how many tags are left over at the end of the season, for transfer to the following season.
Approve eVSDs promptly, carefully
When a consignment of velvet from your farm is sold or sent to a packhouse, it will be scanned by the buyer or receiver. Once this record is saved to VelTrak, two things automatically happen:
- An electronic Velvet Status Declaration (eVSD) for the consignment is generated and lodged in your VelTrak account.
- You are sent an email advising you that the eVSD is waiting in your VelTrak account for you to approve.
When you get this email it is important to promptly check and approve the eVSD. To do this, log into your VelTrak account using your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Do not use the VelTrak app from Google Playstore, as it works only on the scanners used by buyers.
There are three declaration questions on page three of the eVSD. Please read, understand and answer these questions correctly. You must answer YES to all three questions for your velvet to enter the human food chain.
At the same time, be mindful that the eVSD is a legal document, so it is important to answer the questions truthfully. Also, your answers cannot be changed once you have approved the eVSD.
VelTrak enables every velvet tag to be electronically tracked from the vet, to the farm, to the buyer, to the processor and finally to the overseas customer. This paperless chain of custody enables velvet to be rapidly and accurately tracked and traced from the farm to the market and back again.
This ensures our velvet complies with New Zealand’s Animal Products Act and the requirements of overseas market regulators. It also protects the majority of farmers who do the right thing, by making it very difficult for anyone velvetting in unregistered facilities and/or outside our industry-agreed standards to sell their velvet.
VelTrak tags and how to apply them
Each black VelTrak tag you purchase from your vet has been recorded on the VelTrak website as having been allocated to your farm. It allows each stick to be tracked all the way from your farm to the market (and back again).
DINZ, as the supplier, sets a recommended retail price (RRP) for the tags, but the actual price to the farmer is set by the veterinary practice. The RRP for the 2021/22 season is 49 c/tag including GST.
- Use the black tags only (velvet with blue tags carried over from previous seasons will not be accepted for an eVSD).
- Keep the tags clean and dry before attaching them to the stick (wet or dirty tags may not stick).
- Keep unused tags at least 2 metres away from any area on the farm where velvet is scanned. This is to prevent unused tags from being scanned by accident.
- Store your tags away from direct sunlight or sources of heat, to protect the RFID chip from damage.
- Attach each tag by wrapping it around the velvet like a wristband. Stick the end on top of the other end of the tag, without covering the barcode or any of the printing. (Don’t stick the inside ends of the tag together like an airline luggage tag).
- Leave some space between the tag and the stick, so it dries properly during processing (you should be able to easily fit your little finger between the tag and the stick).
- If you tag velvet when it is hanging on a rack, cut end upward, put the tag on upside down (this means it will read correctly when the cut end of the dried stick is pointing downward).
- If the stick is very thick, place the tag somewhere on the stick where it will fit and not fall off. Do not stick two tags end on end (or it will result in two readings).
This video was filmed with prototype green tags. The VelTrak UHF RFID tags are black.
Farmer quick-start guide
To view or download a copy of the Farmer quick-start guide (A3 poster format), click here >>
To request a hard copy, printed on waterproof synthetic paper, please ring 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872)
For a farmer to sell deer velvet into the human food chain, it must be tagged with a black VelTrak tag, obtained from their veterinarian.
Before you can allocate VelTrak tags to a farmer, your veterinary practice must be registered with VelTrak and the farm’s velvetting and cold storage facilities must have passed an MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS) audit. This applies regardless of whether the farmer or a vet removes the velvet.
To register a veterinary practice with VelTrak, please ring DINZ on 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872). DINZ will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from email@example.com, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Once the ‘primary user’ has registered the practice they can register any NVSB-registered vet or other staff member who will be dealing with VelTrak on behalf of their business.
Unrelated vet ‘businesses’ cannot share tags or borrow them if they run out. So the most flexible option in regions where deer vets work across multiple clinics is to register all the clinics in VelTrak as a single ‘business’. This business needs to order tags centrally via the VelTrak on-line ordering system and distribute them to the clinics in its network.
Tags held by the business can then be allocated to any of its deer farmer clients by any of the NVSB-vets the primary user has registered on VelTrak.
To allocate tags to individual farms, record the tag numbers on the VelTrak website, either manually or by using a barcode scanner. Packs of tags are labelled with the barcodes of the starting and ending tag numbers, making it easy to record transfers of multiple tags to farms using a barcode scanner. On farms with only a few stags, individual tags can be allocated to the recipient by scanning or by manual data entry.
If a farmer has failed an RCS audit, this will be flagged on VelTrak, which will not permit tag allocation to occur. If a client wishes to do their own velvetting, they must be NVSB accredited and have an NVSB supervisory contract with a vet in your practice. If a farmer isn’t NVSB accredited, their stags must be velvetted by a veterinarian.
DINZ invoices vet practices for the tags they order. You may pass this cost on to your farmer clients, along with an appropriate mark-up to cover handling and inventory costs. The DINZ recommended retail price for the 2021/22 season is 49 c/tag, including GST.
Deer Vets/Clinics Webinar– 19 March 2021
Andrew Scurr, NZVA member of the National Velvetting Standards Body presents on VelTrak, the new electronic track-and-trace system for deer velvet which will be rolled out this year in time for the 2021/22 velvet season. Joining Andrew is Deer Industry New Zealand QA Manager John Tacon and Quality Systems Administrator Pam MacLeman to help answer questions following the presentation.
To participate in velvet buying, warehousing, or packing for export, a business must be registered with VelTrak. Anyone buying or receiving velvet from farms must have access to a ‘Zebra’ brand UHF RFID scanner or a specified fixed reader (see below).
These scanners are a significant investment in the long-term reputation of NZ deer velvet. This builds on the major investments made by deer farmers in their deer sheds and freezers so that they comply with the MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS) for velvet removal.
To register your business with VelTrak, please ring DINZ on 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872). DINZ will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Once the primary contact for your business has registered, they can invite other members of staff to register and to specify their roles.
Buyers and receivers are responsible for promptly scanning consignments of velvet bought or received from a farmer. As soon as the file for the scanned consignment is saved, VelTrak automatically generates a draft electronic Velvet Status Declaration (eVSD) for the farmer to approve. At the same time it emails the farmer, advising them that the eVSD is lodged on the VelTrak website ready for their approval.
Buyers: eVSD generation and approval
Scanning can only be done with a Zebra UHF RFID scanner and recorded using the VelTrak computer app (from Google Play Store) or via a fixed reader where a packhouse has opted for this.
VelTrak allows bulk bins or even truckloads of velvet from multiple farms to be scanned with a high degree of accuracy. It works out which sticks come from which farm and enables you to generate eVSDs for individual farmer approval.
IMPORTANT – If the buyer grades and/or sorts a consignment of velvet for sale to a packhouse, the buyer will need to scan the velvet again. This enables an ‘agent eVSD’ to be raised in VelTrak using a process similar to the raising of a farmer eVSD. However, if the buyer is sending an entire batch (untouched) that they have scanned from a farm, it is possible to create an agent eVSD from the existing farmer VSD files. Agent eVSDs do not need to be approved by the receiving packhouse.
Subsequent movements of velvet – such as to/from a processor, or sale – can optionally be recorded in VelTrak by UHF scanning and recording the movement as a Velvet Transfer Record (VTR). Recording these movements is not mandatory but, if done, will provide a complete record of the movement of each velvet stick.
VelTrak for buyers, agents and packhouses
If you wish to maintain a complete record in VelTrak of all velvet movements, including those that do not require a VSD or agent VSD, you have the option to do this using VTRs (Velvet Transfer Records).
How to use the Zebra scanner
This video was filmed with prototype green tags. The new UHF RFID tags are black.
How to manage the files on your Zebra scanner
To read the Independent Buyer user guide, click here >>
To read the Packhouse/processor user guide, click here >>
VelTrak enables velvet to be rapidly tracked up or down the supply chain in response to a food safety or biosecurity issue. If such an issue occurs, DINZ can rapidly unlock the system to identify the farm or consignment and contain the risk.
The ability to rapidly and accurately track and trace animal food products, and to demonstrate compliance with food safety requirements, is required by the Animal Products Act and regulators in our largest velvet markets (South Korea and China). Because the industry’s previous paper-based systems could not provide this level of assurance, an electronic system needed to be developed.
DINZ developed VelTrak to meet these requirements and to provide a platform for future market development initiatives that will add further value to NZ velvet. Down the track, some customers will doubtless want to scan a stick and see a photo and a bit of a story about where the velvet comes from – the farm, the farmers and the deer. This is something we may explore once VelTrak is well-established.
The integrity of our production systems is one of the major reasons that NZ velvet enjoys such a strong reputation in South Korea and China. VelTrak further entrenches this reputation by reducing the risk of human error or fraud. It provides the level of traceability that major brand-name companies expect of their raw material suppliers.
VelTrak is expected to help strengthen the premium position that NZ velvet enjoys in South Korea. While other countries have piggy-backed on the work NZ has done developing demand from Korean health food companies, they do not have the technology we have developed for VelTrak.
VelTrak is likely to play an important role in developing demand in China and elsewhere in Asia from health food companies that insist on proof of quality and traceability in order to protect the integrity of their brands.
Click below to watch a NZ exporter discussing the benefits that VelTrak will confer on our industry.
- Eliminates the need for farmers and buyers to manually record tag numbers and dates
- Eliminates the need for farmers to keep copies of paper VSDs for audit - all eVSDs are stored electronically and are searchable
- Greatly reduces the risk of human error
- Provides cloud-based data security (VelTrak data is stored on the servers of one of the world’s largest and most reputable cloud providers)
- Enables every registered user (and auditors) to rapidly retrieve data for a ‘business’
- Enables data on velvet transactions and inventory movements to be rapidly searchable and accessible
- Provides vets with the RCS status of a farm before agreeing to supply velvet tags
- Vets can log the tags allocated to their farmer clients with the click of a barcode scanner
- Makes it easy for vets to manage their tag inventory and to efficiently order tags
- Spares farmers from having to do any VSD paperwork. All farmers need to do is to tag their velvet correctly and promptly confirm an eVSD for each velvet consignment that leaves their farm
- Reduces the risk to buyers of trade being halted because of a suspected food safety incident: the affected product and the supplying farm can be rapidly identified and ring-fenced if necessary
- Provides buyers and packhouses with an efficient inventory management system, with swift forward and back tracing of product and an online archive of stock and transactions.
Bespoke design and testing
VelTrak software has been created specifically for the NZ deer industry by a company specialising in IT for the primary sector. Similarly, the scanners and barcode formats were selected specifically for deer velvet – taking into account the different types of user within the industry – with the help of a NZ company that is a global leader in UHF scanning technology.
UHF chipped identification tag
The key tracing technology used by VelTrak is a UHF RFID chip embedded into the VelTrak tag. The chip does not contain information about the stick or its provenance: that is stored in the cloud database.
UHF was selected as the type of RFID. This is because it allows many chipped items to be scanned at once. This is important for businesses dealing in large volumes of velvet. Other forms of RFID chip, such as LF tags, are unsuitable as only one tag can be scanned at a time.
Confidentiality and data access
VelTrak has been designed to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. It is a ‘one-up, one-down’ traceability system as required by NZ food safety law. Users see only the data that relates to the business from which they received velvet and the data relating to any business to which they have supplied velvet.
At this stage customers in the market cannot see the farm of origin of velvet. But down the track, some customers will doubtless want to scan a stick and see a photo and story about where the velvet comes from – the farm, the farmers and the deer. This is something we may explore, subject to exploring the privacy implications and getting the informed buy-in of the farmers concerned.
When users log on to VelTrak, their interface and the actions they can carry out are specific to their type of user. For instance, only veterinary practices will be able to allocate velvet tags to farmers and only farmers will be able to approve draft eVSDs.
Scanners are either handheld devices, most suited to scanning small shipments in the field, or a fixed scanner suited to scanning larger shipments in a packhouse. VelTrak has been developed to work with only one model of handheld scanner – the Zebra. This is to meet the unique needs of the NZ velvet industry, keep software development costs manageable and to limit the number of upgrades needed over time.
The barcodes on the tags, with the ‘GTIN’ numbers underneath, allow veterinarians to easily allocate tags to a farmer without needing to purchase a UHF scanner. Customers in world markets can also use them to verify that the velvet comes from New Zealand and meets our strict food safety and animal welfare standards.
Barcode scanners are not practical for buyers or packhouses dealing with large numbers of sticks at the height of the season.
Each tag has an associated UHF chip number, but the GTIN -- as the visible number – is the number displayed on eVSDs and entered into VelTrak for traceability searches.
If a farmer wishes to link a stick of velvet to the stag from which it was removed, the velvet tag number can be entered against the stag's NAIT number into farm management systems at velvetting, using a bar code scanner. Farm management software companies can advise on how best to do this.
Most users interact with the VelTrak database through the VelTrak website. Like all websites, this is accessible through smartphones, tablets and PCs.
To ensure confidentiality, all users (veterinarians, farmers, buyers and packhouses) must be registered and have a unique password to log-in to the website. The only information users can view is that which is relevant to their role.
Some information on the database is added automatically, based on the profile of the person doing the scanning (for instance, the identity of the velvet buyer) or the farm to whom the tags have been allocated. Other information relevant to the individual consignment -- such as velvet weight or identity of the person doing the velvetting -- must entered by the buyer or farmer.
What do our customers say about VelTrak?
Demand in recent years from major health food companies in South Korea has dramatically expanded the market for our velvet. They welcome VelTrak.
It provides them with the proof of integrity and traceability they need to protect the reputation of their brands. It’s what these companies have been asking us for.
Here’s what some of them said when we told them that we had developed VelTrak:
Ashley Chung, Chief Marketing Officer
BD & Marketing Division, Yuhan Care
“Health food is our business, so we have to be 100% certain the velvet we buy is safe and comes from healthy deer. VelTrak will prove to us that it comes from a farm in New Zealand where food safety and animal welfare are of the highest standards.”
Kiyul Kim, Team Leader,
Korea Ginseng Corporation
“We always buy NZ velvet, because it’s the best in the world. But even with the best food products there are risks. VelTrak will help us manage those risks. Thank you, NZ deer farmers, VelTrak is a great initiative.”
Dr Gyong Jai, Lee,
Leading Oriental Medicine Doctor
“NZ velvet is premium and higher quality than velvet from other countries. I welcome VelTrak. It will prove that the velvet I am buying genuinely comes from a New Zealand farm.”
To download the Frequently asked questions sheet, click here >>
This protocol governs the confidentiality of VelTrak data. That is how data about individuals and organisations is protected from third party disclosure without authorization of the person or organization concerned. In scope is data use by DINZ and data disclosure to third parties.
Out of scope are matters of data privacy, privacy being a person’s ability to control the availability of data about themselves. That is because the data entered into VelTrak about a person or business is either automatic or extremely limited in scope, users have direct access to all their personal information by virtue of logging into VelTrak and the considerations relating to data entry are dealt with in the VelTrak terms and conditions of use that each user must accept.
Out of scope are matters of data security – how all VelTrak information is protected from inadvertent or fraudulent disclosure, is wired into VelTrak itself by virtue of the systems, products and processes used to create and run the software on the various devices.
As the database creator and owner, DINZ asserts its right to deal in VelTrak data for industry good purposes and subject to the law. The DINZ board approved principles for the sharing of VelTrak information in July 2020 and determined that the CEO could approve detailed protocols applying those principles. While protocols are to cover foreseeable circumstances relating to data access, unforeseeable circumstances where data access is sought wlll arise, for which the principles should be applied directly.
To view the VelTrak data protocol, click here >>