This past Thursday, I met with Alvaro Ramirez, CEO of eHarvestHub, to discuss the future of farming. During our meeting, he introduced me to his most recent project, a traceability platform integrated into a virtual marketplace for produce. eHarvestHub simplifies the transaction process between retailers and farmers.
Currently, most farmers use brokers as middlemen to sell their produce. As intermediaries, brokers meet their retailers' demand and provide the necessary transportation to get produce to and from market. Though middlemen provide much of the needed infrastructure, they take a heavy profit margin. While meeting with friends in Central California in 2012, Alvaro learned that farmers grossed, on average, a measly 4% margins. Within the current system, the prices in supermarkets are multiples of the prices paid by the middlemen.
After the produce is sold, the farmers are also responsible for general traceability. In order to halt bad produce from spreading, laws mandate some sort of system to trace the produce's origin. Thus, if a consumer gets sick from a specific fruit, the store can find the farm it's from, and remove produce with similar origins off the shelves. Traceability, however, is an extended procedure that's tedious and time-consuming.
eHarvestHub offers a data-driven automated integration to alleviate traceability concerns. By offering free formatted and ready-to-print tags, eHarvestHub provides a much-needed service for farmers. eHarvestHub also wants to become the Uber for farm-to-shelf transactions by providing an online marketplace for farmers and buyers to connect.
The traceability tools offered by eHarvestHub are heavily welcomed, because farmers are required by law to track their farm's produce. Hopefully, the traceability offering will drive eHarvestHub's virtual marketplace. Alvaro also wants to integrate the trucking sector to alleviate concerns of transportation. eHarvestHub is providing a useful service for farmers that can lead to a thriving new marketplace for produce. eHarvestHub is a great idea with a lot of potential.
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