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HarvestMark making inroads in produce

by John Groh | May 03, 2009
LAS VEGAS -- With traceability now perhaps the key issue for consumers and the produce trade alike, YottaMark is seeing increased interest in its two- year-old HarvestMark traceability solution, as evidenced by three major produce marketers that have adopted the program in the last month alone.

Camarillo Berry Farms, which markets "Foxy" brand strawberries, California Giant Berry Farms and Sun World International have begun using the HarvestMark product as of the middle of April. There are now more than 40 companies that use HarvestMark, with a quarter of a billion items carrying the label. YottaMark believes that the "HarvestMark" label could be carried on a billion items by the end of the year.

Elliott Grant, chief marketing officer of the Redwood City, CA-based YottaMark, said that while other produce traceability initiative solutions offer enough information to facilitate a traceback, HarvestMark goes further and offers enhanced information that can be used by both retailers and shippers. "For example, we offer more features, such as the ability for retailers to offer instant feedback to the shipper," he said.

The HarvestMark solution, which facilitates case-level traceability as well as item-level traceability, can deliver on-demand access to harvest, distribution, quality and food-safety information. "A lot of companies can achieve the standard, but we go beyond," he stated.

According to Mr. Grant, research commissioned by his company revealed that 83 percent of consumers indicated a preference for items that have the ability to be traced, which means that retailers are requiring traceability from their suppliers.

"Retailers have shown an enthusiastic response to HarvestMark," Mr. Grant told The Produce News April 23 during the United Fresh 2009 exhibition, here. "While we don't sell to retailers, they are key" to the increased adoption of HarvestMark by the produce industry.

Mr. Grant said that YottaMark has made it "really easy and really cheap" for companies to get up and running with HarvestMark. "Our entry-level product is only a few thousand dollars."

In a press release announcing Sun World International's decision to use the HarvestMark solution, Al Vangelos, president and chief executive officer of Sun World, said, "Achieving supply-chainwide traceability is a critical goal for the produce industry. At Sun World, we pride ourselves on innovation. In the same way that we have delivered new produce varieties with extended shelf life and enhanced flavor, we will deliver a traceability solution that not only meets industry standards but goes beyond that by providing consumer unit- level traceability. We are pleased to partner with the HarvestMark team to provide our traceability solution for this important company-wide program."