August 2010: HarvestMark Launches Consumer Campaign in Portland, OR
HarvestMark codes have now been applied to well over 1.5 billion items of produce. Consumers can discover that their produce is traceable, by text on the label such as “trace me” or “see where I was grown.” The HarvestMark team has now begun its direct consumer marketing – to raise awareness of traceable produce.
Our research found that a consumer’s likelihood to purchase a product jumped 12 percentage points after they experienced HarvestMark traceability. So, increasing consumers’ awareness of HarvestMark can translate into significant benefits for our customers.
We’re often asked what is the most effective ‘call out’ on the label – what words drive the highest trace rate? Certainly, saying something in plain English like “Follow me back to the farm” is much better than saying nothing at all, but there’s no single phrase yet that appears better than any other. It’s more important where the text is. Consumers generally ignore everything on the bottom of the package – so call outs on the top are much more effective.
Check out the great call out on this package of OrganicGirl greens that not only tells the consumer what to expect, but also how to trace: “See where and when I was grown. Enter the code at HarvestMark.com.”
Interpreting the Manager's Version of the Food Safety Enhancement Act
The Senate recently published the manager’s version of S.510, the Food Safety Enhancement Act. The House partner bill (HR2749) passed in 2009, and this is the version that will likely go to the Senate floor for a vote in September (especially given the momentum created by the egg recall). The Traceability Insider has parsed the document for insight into what this means for traceability.
- Sec. 204 of the Act deals with traceability of all food (not just produce).
- Specifically, Sec. 204[c] legislates that the Government will establish within the FDA a system to receive information to “rapidly and effectively track and trace food…. In the US or for import into the US”.
- A lot of the document deals with how the Government will determine the most appropriate design for this system through running pilots of existing systems. The exact method, however, is not specified – but it is very likely to involve, at a minimum, recording the handler, SKU, and lot information.
- There’s a section on additional recordkeeping for ‘high risk foods’, and what won’t be required of them. The baseline and additional information requirements, and what constitutes a ‘high risk food’ are yet to be determined (perhaps any commodity that’s had a recall in the last 5 years). Importantly, a ‘full pedigree’ captured by each participant will not be required – which means that one-up/one-back (like PTI) is consistent with the Act.
- There are exemptions for small farmers – which are controversial. There’s also some wiggle in the language that could let certain groups off the hook in the future. There’s a clause that says that the information may be delivered non-electronically – which is odd given that the entire raison d’être for the bill was more efficient data sharing, but this is likely to only apply to farmers, not to packers, re-packers, shippers, processors, or retailers and foodservice operators.
Bottom line: the bill establishes the foundation for a mandatory traceability system in food, but leaves a lot of the specifics to a later date. The Act is silent on whether the system will be standards based (e.g. PTI/GS1) – preferring instead to let market forces decide.