STARTUP PROFILE - iFoods: Food Safety Data Anytime, Anywhere
Posted on March 08, 2017 16:53 PM by sthara
Providing real-time food safety data at your fingertips is just one part of iFoodDecisionSciences’ business model.
“Our team’s passion to serve the industry, our dedication to helping our clients deliver their produce in a safe and timely manner is above and beyond,” said Diane Wetherington, CEO of iFoodDecisionSciences. “We can get a call from a grower at 5:00 p.m. saying they need to add 500 new blocks to our system so they can start harvesting those plots of land the next morning, and we will meet their request almost immediately.”
iFoodDecisionSciences is committed to providing exceptional customer support because the team understands how crucial it is for growers to easily collect, manage and access data about their fields.
Growing Company Roots
The company’s inception stemmed from a Center for Produce Safety project where iFoodDecisionSciences played a key role in analyzing California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement audit data. “After this and other similar projects, our company found its purpose and started growing into a strong organization dedicated to streamlining the food data collection process,” said Wetherington.
Before the company officially launched in 2013, they collaborated with a core group of Western Growers’ members—Taylor Farms, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Mann Packing and Church Brothers—to determine the needs of every stakeholder in the fresh produce supply chain.
“Western Growers was instrumental in helping us move forward. Hank invited us to meet with the Science & Tech Committee to give them a demo of our initial tool box. After the presentation, we had several companies pilot our software, and we were able to refine our platform based on their input,” said Wetherington.
Building a Food Safety Tool Box
iFoodDecisionSciences offers software that helps growers, harvesters, shippers, packers, third-party suppliers and processors save time and money by making data collection and analysis easier. Currently, most companies have to wait for a crew member to take information from the field back to the office, scan and format the data, and only then can they be able to analyze the information. iFoodDecisionSciences simplifies that process.
The company builds software “tool boxes” that funnel information from the field to an online portal using a computer, laptop, mobile device or tablet. These tool boxes are built using client input, so growers and processors are able to access and sift through the data that is most important to their operation’s success.
With the software, companies know immediately if they have a problem in the field. During field assessments to determine if there is any risk before harvest, there might be a delay in inputting and analyzing the paperwork and growers won’t know about the risk until after the crop has been harvested, said Wetherington. “We provide users with access to food safety information anytime, anywhere. Growers can use this real-time information to quickly make field decisions that will prevent food safety incidents.”
Prioritizing Collaboration and Innovation
The global population is expected to reach 9.3 billion within the next 30 years, and food production will need to increase by as much as 70 percent to meet this surge. To help growers dramatically increase food production in a safe and healthy manner, collaboration with innovators and entrepreneurs dedicated to food safety is crucial.
iFoodDecisionSciences was among the first start-up companies to join Western Growers in its efforts to advance technology to solve agriculture’s biggest issues, including food safety. Western Growers’ recently-launched Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) in Salinas, CA, serves as an incubator where startups can come together and collaborate on new technologies that will enhance and improve the industry. The Center currently houses 14 companies that are headquartered all across the country but are all working on one mission.
“Our home base is in Seattle, so we love being able to come to the heart of Salinas to join forces with like-minded entrepreneurs,” said Wetherington. “Being part of both the Salinas community and WGCIT family will play a fundamental role in our journey to become a recognized leader in food safety data management and information needs.”
Editor's Note: This article was featured in WG&S Magazine in May 2016.