Pick up a bagged salad mix in almost any UK Tesco branch and the chances are that at least some of the lettuce leaves inside originated from fields farmed by Lincolnshire-based fresh salad producer and Freshware user Jepco Marketing.
As managing director Simon Goddard explains, the bulk of Jepco’s products are delivered to major food processors, who chop and bag the salad leaves and sell the finished items to leading grocery retailers, UK-wide. “When you go to Tesco and buy a bagged salad, it’s probably our product in there – a lot of the lettuce leaves come from us,” he says.
Jepco’s relationship with Affinitus began in the early 2010s when the company was seeking a means of improving the workings and efficiency of its internal systems. A search among off-the-shelf packages that met Jepco’s needs initially proved fruitless until Goddard received a recommendation for Freshware; a system that could be adapted specifically to the company’s requirements.
Goddard says Jepco was looking for a means of improving its processes – covering everything from its daily farming operations to quality control and being able to offer full traceability for clients – in a system that did not come with an extortionate price-tag.
For Jepco, the solution came in the form of Affinitus’ Freshware software system, which Goddard says delivered a “vast improvement” on the company’s previous working methods.
“Four-five years ago, we were looking to improve our internal systems, looking round the marketplace and somebody said, ‘ have you tried Affinitus?’ and they had the best option for the price,” he remembers. “It was affordable for our size of operation and when we put it in, it was a vast improvement.”
Freshware not only covers all of Jepco’s sales orders process from to initial receipt to invoicing, but links right through to the field – enabling its management team to know exactly how many plants have gone in the ground – and from there to the company’s quality control (QC) system.
“It links to our QC system and then to our planting, so in terms of traceability, we know what field, lane and plot the product actually came from,” Goddard explains.
“If one of our customers says, ‘we need a trace report,’ we can go back to the PO number or the invoice and track it back all the way through.
“We’re all driven by standards and protocols, and if you want to sell to major retailer, you’ve got to be able to demonstrate all of your food production controls.”
As well as offering effective stock control, Jepco also benefits from being able to use Freshware to track all of its harvest data, meaning the company knows precisely the yield they are likely to receive from each and every field and individual plot.