HarvestMark was founded in 2004, and initially developed tracking technology to help authenticate electronic goods and pharmaceuticals in order to combat counterfeits. That all changed in 2006, following the spinach crisis.
“Some of California’s biggest produce growers and processors realized that this technology should be adapted to agriculture in order to provide end-to-end supply chain transparency,” said Minos Athanassiadis, director of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.
Minos Athanassiadis, director, HarvestMark
Today, the company is a global leader in food traceability and management of quality and freshness throughout the whole supply chain from field to fork.
Four years ago, Trimble, a Software as a Service (SaaS) technology company that services global industries in agriculture and other sectors, acquired HarvestMark because it complemented Trimble’s Connected Farm and Visibility solutions within the food supply chain.
For more than 40 years, Trimble has created unique solutions that help customers grow their business thanks to 2,000-plus unique patents as well as research and development centers in more than 15 countries, Trimble augments its organic product development with strategic acquisitions to bring the latest technologies to a wider market, which led to the acquisition of HarvestMark.
HarvestMark food traceability
“HarvestMark Trimble is transforming the fresh food supply chain with core technologies in traceability, quality management and data analytics to enable customers to improve productivity, quality, increase brand preference and reduce shrink,” Athanassiadis said.
HarvestMark provides three key SaaS offerings: It produces traceability at the lot level, following PTI guidelines; it produces traceability at the item, or sell unit level which enables consumers to directly connect with the growers of the produce they bought; and it offers distribution center insights, which enable grocery retailers to manage the quality of their incoming produce shipments.
“All three of these offerings have been extensively used in the organic fresh produce category, particularly since supply chain transparency is very important to organic produce consumers, growers and retailers,” Athanassiadis said.
HarvestMark tracebility label solutions
HarvestMark provides an easy and cost-effective way to implement item level traceability on products for food safety, recall and engagement of end consumers and others throughout the supply chain. It also has the experience implementing item level traceability on all different types of products and operations with minimal to no impact on productivity.
“The ability to communicate with one’s consumers through our item-level traceability offering helps our organic producers strengthen the image and the value of their brand and helps them to differentiate their product in the market,” Athanassiadis said.
The challenge is that many grocery retailers do not track produce shipments once they arrive at their warehouse and on to the stores at the production lot level. This often results in a break in the ability to trace back contaminated product should it be necessary.
HarvestMark tracebility label solutions
“In turn, this needlessly condemns both organic and conventionally grown commodities to indiscriminate recall by the FDA or other government agencies, like last November’s blanket romaine lettuce recall,” Athanassiadis said. “Recently we are seeing more retailers making the commitment to implement both existing technologies such as HarvestMark and to experiment with new technologies such as blockchain in order to track product from the farm to the consumer.”
After all, traceability from the farm to the consumer is particularly important today because there remains various food safety crises with people getting sick from eating contaminated produce. Additionally, there is a strong desire from organic shoppers for greater transparency in their food.
“HarvestMark technology provides this transparency, with the ability to better connect to the source of their food and provide feedback to back to the producers,” Athanassiadis said.