Food Engineering

Watermelon producer attacks traceability issues

June 2, 2009
A Food Engineering Exclusive


Watermelons are labeled using PTI-compliant GS1-128 technology. Source: TraceGains.

This software complies with the Produce Traceability Initiative

Raymon J. Land Watermelon Sales operates at several owned and contracted grower locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana, accommodating consumer demand for fresh watermelon throughout the year. Addressing the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) and additional retailer specifications became a priority as the producer found it necessary to perform instantaneous trace-back and trace-forward searches for its products packed or shipped from any of its locations.

The company implemented TraceGains’ Positively Assured Traceability system at its watermelon packing and shipping operations. Land Watermelon Sales now is fully compliant with the industry’s PTI, and the system allows the Branford, FL-based producer to perform trace-backs and trace-forwards.

As melons are picked at a particular location, attributes that identify farm, field location, pick date and an array of farming conditions are captured and recorded. PTI-compliant GS1-128 labels are generated in real time and applied to every bin shipped. Shipping load and destination records are automatically linked to each bin providing an immediate single source of consolidated information.

Using the software, Land Watermelon Sales can view the pedigree of any product from the farm field to the retailer in a matter of seconds, and prove what shipments may and may not be part of any issue. The software also will allow Land the option to grant access of selected information to its business partners, such as transporters and retailers.

“Raymon J. Land’s objective is to take a leadership role at addressing the PTI,” says Laura Land, head of quality and safety for the producer. “However, our goal as a business is to elevate our value-added service to our retailer customers. In turn, our information services enhance their ability to assure their customers-consumers-that they are buying a product that is safe and of the highest quality,” she adds.

“While the industry initiative will help reduce the scope of an outbreak, it will not by itself prove to the market that my products are safe and can remain on my customer’s shelves,” Land says. “If a quality problem ever occurs, our system will alert us to it and isolate the affected items, so that we can contact our retailers, and recall and replace it as fast as possible,” she concludes.

Besides the traceability aspects of the TraceGains’ software, an additional benefit for the watermelon producer is improved accountability and accuracy in inventory and shipping management. The system will allow for more complex identification to shipments and reduce labor as well.

For more information, contact TraceGains or call 800-287-8787.