Lot Tracking Software Selected for Vermont Value-Added Food Businesses
The Mad River Food Hub today announced that they have selected the DEAR Inventory application to provide small value-added processors with a product traceability solution.
In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently working on finalizing the regulations. This sweeping legislation will significantly impact small businesses by increasing food safety regulations, specifically the requirement to have traceability of all products. (Food traceability refers to record-keeping systems that provide the ability to identify the path and the history of an animal, food product, or food ingredient through the food supply chain)
Recognizing the impact this legislation will have on Vermont’s small and emerging food businesses, Robin Morris, founder of the Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield, Vermont, embarked on a quest to provide every small-scale food producer and processor in Vermont with an affordable, easy to implement, and easy to use lot tracking system, especially food businesses using food hub facilities, in order to meet FDA, USDA, and market-enforced food traceability requirements.
“The Mad River Food Hub is a business incubator for small food processors,” said Morris. “Rather than wait for the FDA to hand down the new regulations we concluded that a food traceability solution would strengthen all Vermont’s small food businesses immediately. Our vision was to find a software application that worked in the cloud, ran on Apple IOS and Android devices, and interfaced to cloud based software such as QuickBooks Online.”
To implement the three phases of the project, the Mad River Food Hub collaborated with the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and the Center for an Agricultural Economy’s Vermont Food Venture Center In early 2013 Stan Ward, a software professional, farmer, and value-added processor was hired to find a food traceability solution for Vermont small food businesses. Ward developed a paper-based lot tracking system, completed in-depth market research of existing food traceability software solutions, and worked with a cross functional team of Vermont food system stakeholders to evaluate the leading solutions. The reports and other deliverables are available at http://vt.foodprotectiontaskforce.com/resources/lottracking
In late 2013, DEAR Inventory was selected as the solution for small-scale processors. DEAR Inventory was judged to have superior features and usability over the other vendors considered. DEAR Inventory provides an easy-to-use and affordable web-based inventory management system with good lot tracking and food safety recall features. In addition, DEAR offers integration with QuickBooks Online and XERO cloud-based accounting services. DEAR also offers integration to other cloud-based services including ecommerce solutions Shopify, Magento, and eBay, and shipping logistics ShipStation (FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL). These integrations are unique to the DEAR Inventory solution and offer an opportunity for food businesses interested in selling their products online. These features also create a compelling business reason to adopt this technology, above and beyond its superior lot tracking capabilities.
As part of the agreement between DEAR and the Mad River Food Hub, DEAR is providing some functional enhancements to further improve its support of food processing businesses and is providing special first year pricing for all Vermont’s food businesses.
Stan Ward, co-chair of the Farm to Plate Tech Task Force, is currently performing training and pilot testing of DEAR Inventory with eight Vermont value-added food-processing businesses at the Mad River Food Hub and the Center for an Agricultural Economy’s Vermont Food Venture Center. This pilot testing is scheduled to conclude in late March 2014.
“Realizing the vision of this project is very important to the continued growth of Vermont’s agricultural and small-scale food processing economy,” said Stan Ward, lead consultant for the project. “It will allow food processors to scale their businesses faster, attract and engage larger customers, respond effectively and efficiently to recalls, comply with the impending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) traceability requirements, and respond to market demands for traceability and ingredient certifications such as organic, kosher, and GMO-free.”
Commencing in April 2014, Ward will offer training and technical services to help food businesses get started with their food traceability programs using DEAR Inventory. Funding for implementation of food traceability programs may be available from the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, or other sources.
Funding for this project has come from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and the Working Landscape Enterprise Fund (through the Vermont Meat and Poultry Processors Association).
About the Mad River Food Hub (MRFH): Located in Waitsfield, Vermont, the MRFH is a food enterprise business incubator whose mission is to support farmers and value added processors in growing their businesses. MRFH offers customers access to licensed, shared, processing rooms for production of both meat and vegetable value added products. In addition, the MRFH can provide storage, local distribution, technical assistance for business and operational planning, and opportunities to make connections across the food value chain.
|Robin Morris |
Mad River Food Hub
|Stan Ward |
|Ela Chapin / Liz Gleason |
Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program