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June 23, 2009

HarvestMark Advisory Board Adds Bruce Peterson To Roster

Some individuals seem to always attract the interest of many in the trade. So it goes with Bruce Peterson. We have covered his actions and recorded his insights many different times:
Wal-Mart's Bruce Peterson Resigns
Bruce Peterson Focuses On Traceability
Bruce Peterson Lands At Naturipe As Its New President/CEO
Naturipe's Peterson Builds All Star Management Team
Peterson Steps Down As President/CEO Of Naturipe, But Joins Its Board Of Directors

Now comes word that Bruce is involved with a new industry activity:

"Bruce Peterson Joins HarvestMark Advisory Board: Former Wal-Mart Executive to drive policy and retail strategy for the HarvestMark fresh food traceability business."

As we told USA Today, HarvestMark is the leader in this field and with Bruce's long time interest in traceability, this is a good place for him.

What the industry thinks of as HarvestMark has a particular scope as a traceability tool. Although the company actually sells various options that encompass case-level and pallet-level capabilities, its marquee product is an item-level label. It is wonderful with a clamshell or bag and on products where the primary issue is a risk of contamination at the source. It doesn't really provide a solution for repackers or situations in which contamination occurs later along the supply chain. In other words the product doesn't track what wholesaler or purveyor or trucker handled the product.

We do suspect, though, that its "item" orientation, as opposed to the Produce Traceability Initiative's "case" orientation, is more in consort with whatever regulations the federal government may come up with in this space. We suspect that this opportunity to sync industry technology with any future federal regulation is part of what would make this opportunity appealing to Bruce.

For ourselves, we have been impressed with the potential for HarvestMark as a marketing tool. We have done much work in traceability but also much in sustainability, and we think the ability for consumers to not only trace back their food but to come to know the farmer or the farm through written narrative, online audio and video and photos is very likely to change the way consumers relate to brands and to food.

We wish both Bruce Peterson and the folks at HarvestMark a rich and productive collaboration.