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Evolution Through Innovation

Evolution Through Innovation

Change.

As many have said before, it is one of the only constants in life. Depending on how you slice it, it can be overwhelming or it can be a chance to thrive.

Luckily for us, the luminaries across the fresh produce industry do not buckle under the weight of evolution. Instead, they embrace change as a catalyst for transformation; the driving force behind a relentless pursuit of innovation.

This mindset is what sets our industry apart from others.

Over the past year-and-a-half, this ethos has enabled us to strap in, put our collective experiences and our minds together, and get down to business, ensuring that fresh produce would come out ahead even amid the most trying of times.

Throughout the chronicles of fresh produce, we have struggled. However, we have always emerged more dynamic and inventive, harnessing an even greater appreciation for hard work and a new vision for the future of our industry.

As I’ve written and scoured countless stories about our advancement as a sector, one key aspect stands out that may not shock many of you: technology. Moving ahead in a world of online ordering, automation, and computer optimization, it makes sense that fresh produce would embrace these aspects to streamline efficiencies as we continue to offer high-quality products to consumers.

One company helping lead this charge toward technological invention and operational efficiency is Produce Pro Software, which is why I sat down with Marc Hatfield, National Sales Manager, to see what the innovator has in store for the future and how it is helping to usher in modernization across the backend of the produce industry.


Jenna Plasterer: Marc, Produce Pro Software recently celebrated a three-decade milestone. In your opinion, how has the business evolved since its inception?

Marc Hatfield: Produce Pro Software has continued to grow and adapt with our customer base over the last thirty years. As the market ebbs and flows, so do the needs of our customers who may require certain functionality to meet their specific needs.

Built from the ground up, the changes needed by our customers are then integrated into our systems. This allows us to be flexible for our customers.

During the last year, for example, we have continued to support our clients, whether it be working with them on the USDA Farmers to Families food box programs or enhancing buyer to consumer (B2C) functionality to allow them to bring in additional revenues. If anything, companies have realized the need to stay technologically competitive in this volatile market, especially after the changes caused by the pandemic. That is where Produce Pro Software comes in, and we are ready to help take businesses to the next level not only to sustain, but to grow.


JP: By now, I think we have all seen how challenging change can be at times, especially when it comes to converting operations and moving to new technology. With that being said, how can you guarantee the implementation of Produce Pro Software will be a success?

MH: Thirty years of implementing Produce Pro Software into some of the best-run companies in the perishables industry has allowed us to successfully guide organizations through a proven step-by-step process from start to finish.

Helping to ease the transition, it is not just the technology that drives Produce Pro Software but the people behind it. Our consultants are experts in produce operations and many have been working in this industry for decades. We have seen the ups and downs and understand the nuances of perishables while bringing an added level of knowledge to every project.

With a dedicated project management team, lead trainers, and lead technical consultants, our customers will have support every step of the way during implementation. Our team will not rest until our clients are up and running. And, our help does not end there. After a few months, our Account Managers take the reins and assist our customers for the life of their businesses. It is very critical to have a smooth transition which, ultimately, drives the success of our partnerships.


JP: Over the last few decades, we have all seen the major shift toward advanced technology and online systems. Besides staying on the cutting-edge, why is it important for produce companies to implement more advanced systems? How has Produce Pro Software answered this need?

MH: Our core philosophy is to develop an all-in-one Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution specifically tailored to all business types in the produce industry. This eliminates the need for integrating multiple systems right off the bat. And this growing trend ultimately ends up being less costly and easier to manage from an operational perspective.

Since the pandemic hit, we have actually seen an uptick in prospective customers choosing Produce Pro Software because of the countless benefits of an all-in-one solution. From the start, it makes their lives easier, focusing on just one system instead of many moving pieces. Our customers trust us and our software to run their operations so they can concentrate on their core business—selling perishable products.

Staying true to our roots, Produce Pro Software has been, and will continue to be, an all-in-one software solution as our industry continues to evolve.


JP: As we move into a world impacted by moves like the 2020 shutdown, what other aspects of the Produce Pro Software system can add value to fresh produce operations and how will these systems help ease the transition into a new way of operating?

MH: The ability to work remotely has had a huge impact on our customers and how they operate, and as we move forward with post-pandemic hopes, it remains a must.

Although this functionality was already in place before the pandemic hit, now companies are taking advantage of being able to access their system anytime and anywhere. Giving our clients this ability, Produce Pro is designed to operate for quick ease of use, doing away with drop-down menus and offering our customers everything they need at their fingertips, which is a huge time saver and provides visibility into all aspects of an operation. Another facet of the system that has become increasingly important is accurate inventory; knowing what is going on with your inventory at any given movement is a direct reflection of dollars and cents.

Through our system, companies can quickly navigate through interactive screens such as recall entry, forecasting, sales board, work orders, dispatch window, load arrival, and lot settlement. These screens make their jobs simpler, allowing them to do more with less—efficiency is key!


JP: Lastly, Marc, as the fresh produce industry keeps moving toward a new, more technologically driven future, what is on the horizon for Produce Pro Software?

MH: We are fortunate that our business has grown significantly over the past couple of years, which, in turn, has allowed us to add new functionality to our system. Our customers are evolving based on market conditions, and because of our business model, we build our software from scratch, providing flexible and tailored solutions for each individual customer. No two customers are exactly alike—we acknowledge and account for that, which allows us to meet the changes in the industry and demands of our customers.

So, I would say that the future for Produce Pro Software looks bright! We are venturing into new markets and look forward to helping many more companies drive results with increased organizational efficiency, minimized waste and loss, reduced operating costs, and real-time data.


As our vision of the future demands we remain steeped in technological advancements and modern evolutions, one thing is certain: We will have to continue embracing change to drive our industry forward. Although it can be intimidating and confusing at times, with decades of expertise at its back, Produce Pro Software is an optimal partner, taking us by the hand—even if it is a virtual one—and guiding fresh produce through these pivotal transitions.