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December 12, 2003
For immediate release

Hayden Produce Establishes Traceback System

Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry

With a new traceback system now on stream at Hayden Produce, the company can track any load of spuds it ships from field to the consumer's table.

With funding help from the Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council (which administers the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) Fund in the province for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), the company has purchased three pieces of equipment to allow it to code its product. A video jet printer codes the paper bags, while a bag closer and imprinter is required to put the same information on product shipped in poly bags. The company has also purchased a high speed bagger to expand and pack the poly bags, which are becoming more popular in the marketplace.

The system allows the company to identify all product shipped with a code that will identify when it was packaged, the warehouse and field it came from, as well as the chemicals and source of seed used to grow the product.

"Our objective is to increase consumer confidence in our product so they know steps are being taken to ensure they receive the best quality product," said Jason Hayden, a third generation member of the family business. "Today, food safety and quality are front and foremost on people's minds."

While the consumer may not understand the code on the product, Jason said they understand the company is taking ownership and responsibility for the product and its safe consumption.

"The system is working well so far," Jason said. "We really haven't gotten into packaging the poly bags as much as we plan to yet but we will increase that in the coming months."

Over the last number of years, the company has seen a shift in consumer preference to more speciality type potatoes such as Yukon Gold and red varieties. To meet that demand, the company has undergone a major expansion in its grading room to reduce the down time required in shifting from packaging one variety to another.

Since the company is expanding its varieties, this also produced an ideal time to look at a traceback system. In addition to potatoes, the company also grows over 1,200 acres of grain, hay and winter wheat as part of its crop rotation process. The company, which traces its roots back 60 years in the rich soil of the Cherry Valley area, grows approximately 900 acres of potatoes and contracts another 500 to 550 acres in bulk that it grades and packages to its markets. The company began as a beef operation, diversifying into potatoes in the late 1950s. It now maintains a Hereford beef operation and part of the yield from these crops, that is not sold, is used as feed.

(This is one of a series of articles prepared by the Prince Edward Island Agricultural Awareness Committee and funded by the Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council and other partners to highlight new and innovative developments in the province's farming community.)

Media Contact: Daphne Crosby
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