Momentum for traceability is picking up in the mushroom industry.
Traceability system implementations have been installed at four mushrooms operations in the past several years by SG Systems LLC and another one is scheduled for mid-September.
Stuart Hunt, president of SG Systems LLC, Dallas, said the company completed Produce Traceability Initiative implementations at To-Jo Mushrooms, Buona Foods, Phillips Mushrooms and Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms. In addition, Hunt said Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms, Gonzales, Texas, will implement the SG Systems solution for PTI compliant mushrooms in mid-September.
Walmart’s letter to suppliers asking for PTI compliance by the end of the year prompted the order from Kitchen Pride, Hunt said.
Another Walmart mushroom supplier in Oklahoma also has scheduled an appointment in late August because of the letter, he said. ”They wanted to look at something fairly quickly, so they are not the only Walmart supplier of mushrooms that doesn’t have GS1 certification,” he said.
To-Jo Mushrooms installed their PTI system in 2009, followed by other Kennett Square, Pa., mushroom firms about a year and a half after that. Hunt estimated SG Systems may have put PTI systems in facilities that produce about 50% of mushrooms produced in North America.
One advantage of the SG System traceability solution is that it can tie into existing accounting software, Hunt said. The system consists of touch screen terminals, Global Trade Item Number printers and barcodes readers. Hunt said as product is shipped, traceability is linked to the incoming lot number right through the repackaging process.
In general, Hunt said that year-round suppliers of fresh produce — such as mushroom industry marketers — are embracing traceability and PTI solutions.
On the other hand, seasonal suppliers of produce may be slower to take the steps toward implementation, planning for investing in solutions by next year.
SG Systems has been working in produce providing PTI solutions since 2007, Hunt said, with about 100 implementations in the North American industry. Depending on the size of mushroom operations, Hunt said PTI solutions from SG Systems for mushroom packers mostly range from $25,000 to more than $100,000.