In late June, New Limeco LLC plans — as usual — to begin shipping avocados from 800 acres in Florida.
But this year each avocado will carry a label that consumers can use to access an Internet traceability system that includes a database with seed-to-store information.
“With traceability becoming the responsibility of the distributor, we knew we had to get something in place,” said Don Edgar, operations manager for New Limeco, Princeton, Fla.
Edgar said May 24 that he started looking for a traceback system in January 2010. He wasn’t having much luck until he talked to William Kanitz, president and founder of Scoring Solutions Inc., the parent company of ScoringAg.com.
“What we found with ScoringAg is that we could go active almost instantly,” Edgar said
That instantaneous factor is just one of the features Kanitz talks about when describing the ScoringAg SSI-EID Traceback system.
By assigning unique product codes, radio frequency identification codes or 2-D barcodes, ScoringAg allows growers to initiate traceability in the field and carry it all the way to the consumer. The codes are printed on labels on packaging and individual fruits or vegetables. Consumers can use smart phones to scan the codes and access a traceability database on the Internet.
Edgar said New Limeco is working with its retailers now to help make consumers aware of the system. He hopes materials at the point of sale will encourage customers to use their phones to access the information.
“We believe so passionately that the consumer should be able to see where their food comes from that we are going to put barcodes on the labels that go on each of our avocados,” Edgar said.
The information in those barcodes is stored in ScoringAg’s servers, to meet record-keeping requirements for growers, distributors, wholesalers and any other entity in the food chain, Kanitz said.
All the system requires is a personal data assistant and a portable label printer, which can be taken into the fields. Edgar said he recommends it particularly for smaller operations because of its simplicity and affordability — less than $5,000.
Once information is entered into the ScoringAg database, it can’t be changed, which means it meets the federal requirements for documentation and source verification for all movement and records, Kanitz said. Information stored includes country of origin, certifications, good agricultural practices performed, prevention practices and shipping records.
Kanitz said he has customers in Indonesia using the system and he is in negotiations with the governments in China, Pakistan and Jamaica. Among his earliest customers were Amish farmers, who needed a solution that did not involve electricity. By using equipment powered by solar-charged batteries, Kanitz said he customized a system that met their requirements.