November 5, 2012 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
As the Sole Provider of their Actively Enhanced Atmosphere Technology and Comprehensively Documented Real-Time Monitoring and Control, Purefresh is making the Worldwide Ocean Transport of Fresh Produce and Flowers Possible
Purfresh: Making Global Products Local.
As the sole provider of
actively enhanced atmosphere technology and comprehensively documented
real-time monitoring and control, Purfresh makes ocean transport a viable
option even for the most sensitive cargo. Shippers of fresh produce,
flowers, and other high value cargo choose our patent-pending technology to
mitigate risk, open new markets and reduce transport costs, while protecting
valuable freight. In a very real sense, Purfresh allows companies to
profitably reach global markets.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – November 5, 2012
Dr. Westcott: We work in the food supply chain, primarily ocean transport of fresh produce. We control the atmosphere in refrigerated containers, which helps protect cargo quality, including freshness, safety and nutritional value of fresh food as it travels around the world.
Dr. Westcott: We restarted the Company this past March, and have been working in the atmosphere of refrigerated containers for four years.
Dr. Westcott: In the past, it started with refrigeration. The Great White Fleet has been transporting fresh food under refrigeration for years. Other companies have offered carbon dioxide (CO2) environments. Purfresh is looking at all the technologies that are available, and applying that to an active atmosphere versus a controlled or static atmosphere. We are adding different chemical and environmental processes as well as information technology to monitor the container’s environment, in real-time, as it crosses the ocean.
Dr. Westcott: An example would be a shipment from Columbia to Asia via the Panama Canal. Our cargo monitoring technology utilizes satellite or GSM signals to continuously monitor and control the environment of the container during its voyage. During the trip, the temperature requirement for the cargo in the container is to maintain at a certain level. If changes occur, such as the temperature level spikes due to various reasons (e.g. the power is turned off), we, along with our customer, will get an alarm. Temperature is one of the critical variables in maintaining freshness and safety of fresh food. After we receive an alarm, we can contact the ship so they can evaluate the problem and make necessary adjustments before the cargo is compromised. In addition, we can change the temperature in route if we see characteristics that we want to modify in the container. Our system also generates ozone, which is a natural antibacterial. Ozone interacts with different factors in a commodity in different ways, protecting the freshness and enhancing food safety. And, we have the ability to modify and alter the level of ozone that we generate for each commodity during transit. Think of it as a recipe, and what we have are recipes and capabilities that are more than one dimension. In the end, we can provide a higher level of freshness and decay, which translates into less food waste. Food waste is a big issue—it is cited as probably one of the top three resource utilization issues that we have to face in the next thirty years.
Dr. Westcott: Ultimately, our customer is the consumer as we want to provide a higher quality product that is fresher, safer, holds a longer shelf life, and contains higher nutritional value. As for whom we sell to along the supply chain, there are a number of dimensions such as the growers who make the food, harvest it and then ship it. We work closely with the growers. In fact, this year we put together what we call a grower partnership program. The program, designed to create working relationships with growers, analyzes the post-harvest supply chain of growers' commodities to provide the best solution to optimize the quality of the delivered product to the consumer. We also work with a steamship lines as resell partners, as the growers will typically order the Purfresh technology directly from the steamship line. Thirdly, we are working to do more with wholesalers and retailers, which sells the “quality” of fresh produce to the end consumer.
Dr. Westcott: Our equipment is less than 25 lbs., and is an integrated controller that literally snaps into a port on a refrigerated container. Installation requires eight bolts, one plug, and is a 15-minute process. We activate the unit via satellite or GSM signal and it is ready to go.
Dr. Westcott: If unexpected atmospheric conditions in the container occur, such as changes in temperature, relative humidity, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and/or ozone, users will automatically receive an alert via computer or smart phone to potentially avoid cargo damage.
Dr. Westcott: We are continioiusly looking at new ways to increase our offerings. Without disclosing future plans, we expect to launch a new product in the not too distant future, which we anticipate will reduce food waste even more.
Dr. Westcott: When we talk about the whole industry for fresh produce, yes, the industry is constantly looking for improvement. There was an article published recently about how the UN says, “Europe wastes 50% of fruit and vegetables and America is not much better.” This issue of reducing waste, improving the quality, and enhancing food safety of fresh produce is a huge right now. People are working on better solutions from the field to consumption. We plan to be a major player and help solve that problem.
Dr. Westcott: The end consumer probably does not fully realize what can be done to solve the problem. One of the things Purfresh is going to have to work on is our message to the end consumer—to create awareness that there are differences in the way their food is transported and managed, and those differences can have a significant impact on what they experience at home. We all buy bananas and we all end up throwing out bananas. In the end, the goal is to provide bananas that are healthier with a longer shelf life—decreasing waste. When we achieve that, we will have done a good job.
Dr. Westcott: In terms of the cost and the return, the return of adding a Purfresh system to ones shipment is very high. In some cases, it can be two to five times the cost of our service. The return is proven and, in many cases, we have customers that have started with us and have been using our technology for four consecutive years. Once the knowledge is there and once we have worked with the growers and in some cases, the retailers are starting to recognize the differences. As we grow, the market recognizes that there are huge advantages to shipping their product utilizing the Purfresh technology.
Dr. Westcott: Purfresh is a global brand, and we continue to be very active with our sales and marketing efforts. We are becoming more involved in everything from Google marketing to social media. We go to the tradeshows and present at key conferences, educating the industry on new technologies such as Purfresh, and we continue to add local representation in key growing regions. Our business is really about partnerships, working together with growers and steamship lines to put the best program in place for each business.
Dr. Westcott: We started in the more expensive commodities, such as grapes, which we are very strong in because we offer a huge advantage. Being located in California, we have decided to work with California-based growers initially, but we have expanded and are now in most major growing regions around the globe.
Dr. Westcott: Business is good and growing. We are fortunate that we have a group of well-known venture capitalists behind us that fully believe in what we are doing and have provided us with a steady foundation for growth.
Dr. Westcott: I think both. It is always nice to be appreciated and picked-out by the professional groups that work on selecting the Clean Tech list, and it helps raise attention to what we are doing as something with a purpose and is meaningful. I think being on the CleanTech Global100 list is an advantage for us. Now when we talk to potentially new customers or anyone it is somewhat of a filtering process, it says we have something of merit and they at least say O.K., I would like to learn more.
Dr. Westcott: Very recently there has been more written about food waste and the difference between organic and conventional food. We all have to be concerned about the food chain as the world grows. Everyone wants to improve his or her diet and increase nutritional value. Purfresh has a solution that is going to make a big impact on that problem. We all have to pay attention to that.
I think Purfresh has been perceived primarily as an ozone technology company
in the past. That is no longer what Purfresh is about. Purfresh is about
improving food quality in the supply chain and we have a number of
technologies and ideas that we put to bear on that problem. We are a
solution company and we focus on providing higher quality fresh food to
consumers around the world.
Purfresh is about improving food quality in the supply chain and we have a number of technologies and ideas that we put to bear on that problem. We are a solution company and we focus on providing higher quality fresh food to consumers around the world. - Brian Westcott, Ph.D.
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