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US (ID): Arrowhead gets traceability grant

Soon every Arrowhead Potato Co. spud will be traceable not only to the farm on which it was grown, but to the very field from which it was pulled.

Arrowhead, owned since 2007 by Moss Produce, has received a $300,000 Value-Added Producer Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The relatively small potato-packing and -shipping company will use the bulk of the money to enhance its products’ traceability.

“This will allow us to continue to sell potatoes to markets that require a higher standard of quality of safety,” said Klade Williams, Arrowhead chief financial officer. “It will allow us to continue to be viable.”

Williams foresees a day, in the not too distant future, when the federal government will make traceability mandatory for producers.

“The bar keeps raising all the time,” said Ron Jones, Arrowhead general manager. “When I first started, as far as traceability, there was nothing. I mean, you bought a box of potatoes, and you had no idea where it came from.”

But in the past 10 years, food safety and security has become a huge health issue nationwide, Jones said, and Arrowhead isn’t waiting to be told to keep up.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve,” said Williams, who wrote the grant request. “We’re being proactive and taking it on ourselves to figure out how to get this orchestrated.”

To remain compliant with ongoing changes in health and safety legislation the company will need to invest in new software, machinery, labels and training of employees.

“It’s really expensive for us per unit because we don’t produce huge numbers here,” said Jones, noting Arrowhead has 48 full-time employees and ships potatoes for about 10 farms, including sister company Moss Produce. “So the grant is going to go a long way to help us get up and going on the traceability program.”

Source: magicvalley.com

Publication date: 3/1/2012


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