BOISE, Idaho - For more than 90 years, farmers across the U.S. have depended on the USDA to provide current pricing and sales information about everything from pork bellies to soybeans. But when the government stops, as it did last October, so do the price reports. And that means buying and selling takes place “in the dark” with no pricing information.
To avoid such scenarios in the future and to help create a more stable, transparent fresh produce market, Unisun Software announced today that it has entered into a partnership with Agricultural Market Analytics (AgMA), a division of the business-information software company, Faceforward Software.
Unisun is using AgMA’s open API (Application Programmers Interface) to enable its ENVIO software users in Colorado to share real-time data on potato sales. “When the government shut down, we lost access to any kind of pricing information, and that made it very hard to do business,” says Jed Ellithorpe, operations and IT lead for Aspen Produce LLC in Center, CO.
“By working with Unisun and AgMA, we’re helping build a database that will give us all good information about our marketplace.” AgMA is starting with Colorado potatoes because all of the major producers and sellers in the state have agreed to share pricing data using a system that aggregates the data to avoid antitrust concerns. A grower, for instance, could see the average selling price in another region, but couldn’t see the price being offered by a particular competitor. AgMA’s statistical pricing and volume statistics are aggregated by size, variety, and region of the country. Growers, packers, shippers, and brokers can use the data like a stock market ticker, with AgMA updating the information every 30 minutes.
“Our goal is to stabilize the potato market so that people have a clear view of what’s going on—what varieties of potato products are selling for, how much is being sold, and where they’re being sold,” says Dave Brown, AgMA’s new business development manager.
“The first step is to get enough data from enough individual growers, packers, and shippers to create a credible picture of the marketplace.” AgMA’s broader goal is to provide this same kind of pricing transparency for other kinds of produce. It is actively seeking participation from the lettuce, tree fruit, and sweet potato markets. “By interfacing with AgMA we give our customers the choice to participate in this project, which is designed for the good of these individual crop markets,” says Unisun Software General Manager Jennifer Ellsworth. “If people have access to accurate, timely pricing information, they can take advantage of sales opportunities. For the small to mid-sized growers, packers and shippers Unisun serves, having access to this kind of information can mean the difference between a good and bad year.”
For growers and packers like Aspen Produce, being able to access this kind of data is very good news. “Regional data can be very useful,” says Ellithorpe. “If we see that our potatoes have a large presence in one region, we might choose to create some kind of consumer ad campaign to build even more demand. Or we might decide to focus on a region where there’s very low demand. But this is the kind of insight we’ll gain from what AgMA and Unisun are doing.”
SOURCE Unisun Software