EDI in the produce industry: a fruitful alliance!
Freshly harvested fruits and vegetables
The produce business depends on fast and efficient processes but is also highly labor intensive. Therefore, domestic producers are increasingly relying on digitization.
According to an old proverb, “if you want to harvest the best fruit, you have to climb the tree.” This has never rung truer in the produce industry. In the past few decades, consumers have become increasingly demanding: they want fruit and vegetables to be available around the clock, preferably freshly harvested, from regional cultivation, and they want top-notch quality. Such requirements call for more demanding logistics processes, which are a challenge in comparison to the relatively easy-to-handle dry goods. At many companies, processes that have been tried and tested for many years must therefore be analyzed and optimized. As is often the case, the answer is digitalization. Even small farms are increasingly introducing new ERP systems that allow for automated business communication. To Jasmin Steinhauser, managing director of “GIF – Gemüse Immer Frisch,” this accelerated shift towards automation in her industry is “mainly a result of the significant labor shortage. Electronic Data Interchange save tremendous amounts of labor while efficiently addressing this problem.”
The key ingredient
The Steinhauser family and GIF Handels GmbH produce a total of 5 million packages of vegetable soup starters annually from their St. Florian (Upper Austria) location, almost all of which, Ms. Steinhauser says, “are harvested by hand, as machine harvesting would negatively impact the quality and shelf life of our vegetables.” Eliminating manual labor is not an option here, but in other areas it certainly is, which is why Ms. Steinhauser has been “a big fan” of digitalization from the very beginning. For instance, last year, she benefitted from “Digitalstarter 22,” a support program by the Upper Austria Chamber of Commerce, to successfully incorporate EDI into ODOO, the ERP system by its software partner Callino. “I was very happy to have EDITEL as a highly knowledgeable partner at my side right from the start. They always kept me in the loop about every detail and even guided me through the entire grant and subsidy jungle,” said Ms Steinhauser. “My contacts at EDITEL were always there for me, which made the project go very smoothly.” Ms. Steinhauser is exclusively using EDI to exchange orders (ORDERS), despatch advices (DESADV), and invoices (INVOIC) with her company’s business partners Hofer and REWE. The company is currently connecting additional partners, which is a step that Jasmin Steinhauser “does not regret for a second. The workload reduction is enormous, and sources of error have decreased considerably,” she said.
On strong ground
“Bodenstark,” a family business located in Vienna-Simmering, also recently started to rely on the advantages of EDI for the distribution of its organic vegetables. According to production manager Lukas Werner: “It’s all about speed! Our herbs and lettuces, which we harvest early in the morning, would otherwise wilt by afternoon. Every minute counts!” For the implementation of the necessary EDI processes, Bodenstark relied on the services of EDITEL right from the start. Mr. Werner found “the perfect interaction between EDITEL and our software service provider activeIT to be particularly beneficial. The entire project management was everything a client could wish for,” he said. Bodenstark was able to introduce the electronic exchange of business documents from its ERP system with its first major business partner.
“The entire process – from orders to despatch advices and invoices – has become a ‘no brainer’ for us,” Mr. Werner is pleased to say.
The fruitful alliance also extends to the retail business
Some of the well-known fruit and vegetable producers who have recently implemented EDI projects with EDITEL include the Lower Austrian potato producer Dorfinger and the horticultural company Zeiler, which specializes in tomatoes (find the story in the last issues of our EDITEL Journal). From their experience with EDI, both companies highlight first and foremost the efficiency and processing quality of their processes. Large retail groups are also increasingly focusing on the produce department for their next digitalization steps. For instance, SPAR Austria, teamed up with EDITEL to develop a Web EDI solution that is tailored to the needs of small suppliers. This also enables non-EDI-ready businesses to connect to the SPAR supplier portal and ultimately to a fully automated order process. In the fruit and vegetable industry, one thing is obvious: whether it’s in the field or in retail, whether it’s product or process quality: you have to harvest the fruit when it is ripe!
About GIF - Gemüse - immer frisch Handel GmbH
Based in Leonding, Upper Austria, the family business specializes in the production and sale of vegetable soups starters and delivers 5 million packages per year to wholesalers and supermarkets in Austria. Since GIF focuses on the production of just a few vegetables, the company meets premium quality standards in the production and delivery of fresh, crisp vegetables.
About Bodenstark Bio GmbH
Behind Bodenstark is the family business Herret, which is in its 5th generation and has decades of experience in the production of vegetables. Under the “Bodenstark” brand, the company has been growing organic vegetables in Vienna-Simmering on an area of about 1.4 hectares since 2018. The range of soil-grown vegetables includes different varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers, salads, herbs, bok choy, and others.
Symbolic image copyright Hedwig Meixner
Logo GmbH copyright Bodenstark GmbH
Portrait photo Jasmin Steinhauser copyright GIF GmbH
Logo copyright GIF GmbH