This week, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack announced the implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law for meats and nuts. The law has many loopholes, but it is a good first step.
In the meantime, private enterprise is always a few steps a head. Realizing that there is a growing market of consumers who want accountability and traceability not just at the country level, but at the farm level, YottaMark, a California startup, has developed a nifty solution.
HarvestMark is a sticker that the farmer places onto a bulk package of fruit or vegetable during harvest. The sticker includes a unique numeric code which can later be used to trace the product back to harvest day and know among other things:
- which farm was this product grown in?
- when was it picked?
- how long has it been in storage?
- who were the middlemen?
The code is different than the UPC barcode. All the data associated with a certain batch of produce is uploaded by the various stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of the product using software that the YottaMark company has developed. For example, a warehouse can track when the product came in ,when it left, and if there were any irregularities during storage. This sort of a solution can also be helpful in product recall management.
If applied at the single product level, consumers may be able to get all this information as well, whether in the supermarket or at home.
It will be interesting to see if, when and how HarvetMark gains market traction.
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