Centricity solves industry challenges with an open, decentralized data platform to unite all suppliers and buyers in the food supply chain
Press Release – updated: Oct 9, 2018 08:00 PDT
WENATCHEE, Wash., October 9, 2018 – Centricity, a grower-owned technology company, today announced commercial availability of a suite of enterprise ag data connectors and services that power a decentralized data synchronization service for the food industry. The services connect farmers and brands in a way that upholds their values while protecting trade data and identity.
“We’ve been collaborating with the Open Ag Technology & Systems Center (OATS) at Purdue University, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and more than a dozen global brands over the past two years,” said Drew Zabrocki, executive officer at Centricity. “The result is an open-source tool, owned by industry, that streamlines requirements to exchange food safety, sustainability, quality and traceability data and eliminates the need to modify existing workflows and processes.”
“We’re tackling the difficult problems and not taking the easy way out,” said Aaron Ault, technical officer at Centricity and senior researcher at Purdue University. “Sure, it's easier to build a centralized solution and try to force everyone on to a single platform, but experience shows that sort of non-interoperable approach creates more headaches than it solves for an industry.”
There's been technical and process issues with buyer demands in the past — but today is a new day. Growers have an opportunity to shape the technology for equitable value exchange.
The open source framework and the enhanced Centricity Enterprise Trellis Connectors offer a new approach for suppliers and buyers to exchange data automatically, regardless of the systems they choose. Once the connections are made, unique trust management keeps proprietary data safe and can also mitigate liability. Because all information can be digitally signed with unique successive signing and selective synchronization, it can be validated, trusted and connected with others cost effectively.
This is especially useful given the produce industry’s recent challenges with food safety traceability, as well as the continued increase in regulation, such as the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and Walmart, who recently announced blockchain compatibility requirements. “Our customers deserve a more transparent supply chain,” Walmart Vice President of Food Safety Frank Yiannas said in a news release. “We felt the one-step-up and one-step-back model of food traceability was outdated for the 21st century.” Direct suppliers will need to have one-step-back traceability on the [IBM Food Trust] network by Jan. 31 and end-to-end traceability is expected by Sept. 30, 2019, according to the letter Walmart sent to suppliers.
“The requirement for PTI case labeling and use of electronic advance shipment notifications (ASNs) has been in effect for Walmart’s produce suppliers for some time,” said Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association. “Companies can use the open-source Trellis Framework to automate the movement of audit and other information to any blockchain cost-effectively.”
“With Centricity’s Enterprise Trellis Connectors, we can ‘plug-in’ existing systems, allowing us to put the information to work in our business quickly,” explains Eric Skiles, IT director at Domex Superfresh Growers. Centricity has been working with leading produce companies like Domex Superfresh Growers, Dole, Rainier Fruit Company, Stemilt, Basin Gold and others to unlock the value of compliance data across all suppliers and partners from the field to the dock. Now, they are taking this boots-on-the-ground expertise to connect the rest of the supply chain in a way that protects the farmers’ interests while meeting buyer and consumer expectations.
“While the compliance requests may seem simple, we’re very cautious,” Zabrocki states. “This is a new era where data is connected in ways we haven’t fully imagined. Printing labels on a case is one thing, but databasing your transactions across systems we don’t fully understand could be dangerous without the right protections in place.”
Centricity has been meeting groups of grower-shippers across North America, facilitating candid talks on the challenges and technical issues experienced in responding to similar requests in the past. “There’s been technical and process issues with buyer demands in the past,” explains Zabrocki, “but today is a new day. We have an opportunity to shape how the technology supports the sellers and the buyers in an equitable value exchange. We’re in full support of a transparent supply chain, provided it upholds the value of all stakeholders equitably.”
In addition to grower-shipper meetings, Centricity is facilitating discussions with ag chem suppliers and equipment/technology providers (grading/sorting, irrigation, imagery, robotics and AI). With a goal of connecting all stakeholders, Centricity is also negotiating agreements with global certification & standards organizations and software & system integrations companies. Earlier this year, Zabrocki presented at the Blockchain Conference in Seattle and the Consumer Goods Forum GFSI conference in Tokyo where major companies and investors expressed excitement about the open-source, collaborative approach. Later this year, they will announce a global farm audit data exchange that connects leading companies across the globe.
“We are especially supportive of Centricity’s leadership and inclusiveness in the development of the Trellis Framework, through their collaboration with The Produce Marketing Association, Purdue University's Open Ag Technology & Systems (OATS) Center, The PMA volunteer Trellis Framework Task Force, as well as grower-shippers who volunteered to pilot and validate Trellis,” said Treacy. “Drew Zabrocki and the Centricity team understand the demands and challenges for growers and the value that a connected supply chain offers the industry and consumers.”
Food Industry Partners, including value-added providers and software companies, can register for service online as well as connect to educational and support resources by visiting www.trellis.one. “This is an open ecosystem,” explains Ault. “We’re here to support your success.”
Centricity will be on site to answer questions at the Blockchain Village and the Science & Technology Committee Meeting at PMA’s Fresh Summit in October as well as several other events this winter. Additional information is also available across web and social channels.
For press inquiries, contact Ethan Johnson, CMO, Centricity at [email protected]
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