With THE PACKER’s Produce Universe app and integrated website practically anywhere a user may be can double as a sales office.
“It will be a complete one-stop industry shop, where buyers and sellers can learn about products, find products, source products, source transportation, all from wherever they are, whether that be a golf course, whether it be a boat, wherever they are, they are going to have the entire produce industry at their fingertips,” said Brent Erenwert, chief executive officer of Brothers Produce, Houston, and chairman of THE PACKER’s Produce Universe Advisory Board.
The new Produce Universe app from THE PACKER and its accompanying newly integrated website is set for launch June 11 at the United Fresh Produce Association’s expo in Chicago.
“It is really like your produce office in your pocket,” 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. She said the free app will be available for iPhone and Android devices. The website and app will be integrated, with information posted on either platform appearing on both. Produce Universe includes free basic and premium access, with a premium subscription necessary to post on the buying and selling page.
Retailers will be offered free access to the app, 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 from an online version of the Produce Market Guide. One of the premium options for subscribing will include a subscription to THE PACKER, with the annual print version of Produce Market Guide included. Premium subscriptions will be available on a month to month basis or at a discounted rate if prepaid annually, Lippisch said.
Produce Universe 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 the field of transportation logistics by being able to search and post for available equipment.
“What I like about this is this is going to allow people to work from anywhere, even on the fly if they are looking for trucks or if they have available equipment they will be able to post with pretty good specificity,” he said.
The app provides for variables such as location, type of equipment, type of commodities, truck rates by various measure and other features.
“It is a couple of quick and easy steps that people will be able to post their equipment and search for equipment and it’s good you don’t have to be tied to the office and be working on something else while you are doing that,” he said. “As this rolls out, it is going to be something that people in produce — both the grower/shipper/customer side and the transportation side — are going to see a whole lot of use for because it really frees them up.”
Erenwert said that the connectivity of the app and integrated website will be valuable to produce operators.
“Somebody can be disconnected from their office but still connected to the produce industry,” Erenwert said.
Erenwert said the app and the integrated website should offer quick, direct communication where buyers and sellers can communicate their needs right away. The app and website feature an easy way for users to post offers to sell product. The data from the Produce Marketing Guide and Red Book Credit Services will be at users’ fingertips, he said.
Some of the features of the app include the ability to refine the listings of produce for sale 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. Sellers can post a picture associated with their product and enter prices and other details of the offer, Lippisch said.
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 a 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.