Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., wants to develop a âone-stop shopâ for members to deal with diverse traceability, sustainability and food safety requirements.
The group wants to help members integrate elements of the three issues in a way that doesnât cause them to replace what already has been done, said Hank Giclas, senior vice president of science technology and strategic planning.
âAt this point it is still a work in progress,â Giclas said.
In June, Western Growers asked about 50 technology providers to submit proposals on the project.
Giclas said about 20 responded. There has been one round of screening, to be followed by another one this month. A âhandfulâ of companies are still in the running, but Giclas did not reveal their names.
Some companies that responded have teamed with other vendors to provide a comprehensive solution for food safety, traceability and sustainability, while a couple indicated they want to do it all, Giclas said.
In any case, he said, the three-pronged approach will take time to build out, no matter if one company or a team of vendors combines for the project.
Giclas said the request for proposal leaned toward adopted or soon-to-be-adopted standards, including the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, the California/Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements and the Produce Traceability Initiative.
However, he said Western Growers members have diverse food safety, sustainability and traceability system requirements.
Giclas said Western Growers hasnât visited with buyers about the process, but it is designed to allow shippers to report relevant data to buyers and regulatory agencies if needed.
Other groups or grower associations could use the results of the Western Growers outreach, he said.
âIf we do pilot something that works and has a good return on investment, we would share that,â Giclas said.