A North Carolina melon grower-shipper is using a case labeling traceback system that allows consumers to send text messages to learn more about the company.

Jackson’s Farming Co., Autryville, N.C., is installing a case labeling system provided by FoodLogiQ, Durham, N.C.

Kerry Farrell, FoodLogiQ’s vice president of sales and marketing, said its Web-based software tools are expected to provide Jackson’s Farming case-level traceability by mid-July.

Text messaging featured in case-level traceback system
                                               Courtesy Jackson Farming Co.

Andy Kennedy, (left) president of traceability company FoodLogiQ, and Brent Jackson, co-owner and sales manager of Jackson Farming Co., Autryville, N.C., oversee packing of cantaloupe on June 19. Through a service offered by FoodLogiQ, consumers can learn about Jackson Farming's growing and packing processes via text messages.

The FoodLogiQ system has what it calls mobilemarQit, which provides a textable code on labels that allows consumers while shopping to instantly receive more information on the melon’s farm, production practices and other details via texting a short code.

Farrell said companies can use texting for branding and nutrition information.

“The produce traceability initiative is a big push for a lot of companies,” Farrell said. “Our focus is how do we help smaller companies get access to tools and technology to enable that. Jackson’s Farming doesn’t need to do case coding until next year but they want to be ahead of the curve.”

Brent Jackson, Jackson’s Farming’s co-owner and sales manager, said he considered many products. He said he reviewed several systems at the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association’s United Fresh 2009 in late April in Las Vegas.

“They (FoodLogiQ) have item-level availability, as a lot of companies have that,” Jackson said. “My concern, however, is that we need to tie the item to the bin and the bin to the farm. Currently, there is  no way of doing that without putting in a lot of elaborate equipment. It’s coming, but it’s a process.”

Though an added grower expense, Jackson said he hopes such traceback systems will in the long run help make a difference as to which shipper receive retail business.

While Jackson’s Farming this year is focusing on case-level traceability, Jackson said next year the grower-shipper, which also has production in Florida, plans to focus on item-level traceability.

Along with using its Famous Software, Fresno, Calif., Jackson’s Farming through adopting the FoodLogiQ system has added another computer workstation and printer to its current cantaloupe and watermelon packing operation.

FoodLogiQ is also working to provide case and item-level traceability for the 40 grower members of the Pittsboro, N.C.-based Eastern Carolina Organics, Farrell said.

Farrell said FoodLogiQ has experience in traceability in the canned vegetables and livestock industries.