Tom KarstDoug Stoiber, an advisory board member for The Packer's Produce Universe, discusses options the new app and website offer buyers and sellers of fresh produce.CHICAGO — Buying and selling produce, and connecting to others in the industry, is now easier with The Packer’s Produce Universe app and website — http://produceuniverse.com.
The Packer officially launched the app and website June 11 at the United Fresh Produce Association’s 2014 Show. The new products provide pricing, sourcing, and other information, and a social network component for smartphones, tablets and laptops, said The Packer’s publisher Shannon Shuman, at a news conference.
In August 2013, The Packer acquired Produce Universe, established by Brent Erenwert, chief executive officer of Brothers Produce, Houston. Erenwert is chairman of The Packer’s Produce Universe Advisory Board.
Produce Universe has the potential to allow small growers an efficient way to move extra volume, said advisory board member John Bailey, executive director of Top 10 Produce LLC, Salinas, Calif.
“With Produce Universe you pick up the app, you list the product and go back to your regular business,” he said.
Another advisory board member, Doug Stoiber, vice president of produce transportation with LMTS and director of business development for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M’s Northwest fruit business, said the app and integrated website bring new functionality to transportation logistics by allowing searches for available equipment.
Stoiber said Produce Universe bring live-access to transportation capacity closer than ever before to shippers and buyers. Rather than sending e-mails and making phone calls to find a carrier to load produce, Produce Universe members can broadcast needs to numerouse transportation providers, he said.
“Transportation partners will be able to go right to their marketplace with capacity opportunities to shippers and buyers to hop on those opportunities right away,” Stoiber said. “Produce Universe is really going to shrink down the time that it takes buyers of produce transportation to find that good deal and take advantage of it,” he said.
“There is a lot of excitement from the industry and it seems to be hitting a nerve in regards to what is needed,” said Bettina Lindner Lippisch, general manager for Vance Publishing Corporation’s fresh produce data products, Red Book Credit Services, Produce Market Guide and Produce Universe.
“The excitement from transportation was particularly high, because of the logistics component,” she said.
Vance Publishing is the parent company of The Packer.
The free app is available for iPhones and Android devices. Information is updated simultaneously for all formats, mobile and desktop. Produce Universe includes free basic service, and subscription-based access to sell/purchase.
Access for retailers is free, Lippisch said.
Subscribers to the premium option will be able to see Red Book Credit Service ratings of buyers and sellers on the system, and search for companies and commodity information listed on the Produce Market Guide site. One of the premium options includes a subscription to The Packer, and the print version of Produce Market Guide. Premium subscriptions will be available on a monthly basis or at an annual discounted rate.
Some of the features of the app include the ability to refine searches for produce in a variety of ways, including distance from the seller, how long the listing has been posted, and when the offer to sell will expire.
Sellers can decide who they will share their offer with, such as customers in their networks.
Buyers will know if the account that has posted the offer is a verified seller and linked to a Red Book rated company. In time, she said sellers will be able to purchase a featured position on the market page and buyers can receive push notifications when specific commodities they are interested in are posted.