The Great Revolution

Succeeding in the potato industry’s Information Age

Published in the August 2014 Issue Published online: Aug 10, 2014 Jerry Wright, UPGA President/CEO
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From the Latin revolutio—turn around— a revolution is a fundamental change in structure that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Today, the world finds itself in perhaps the most significant revolution ever witnessed in terms of its lasting effect on world history. It is the Information Revolution, and it is happening because of technological advances in the transfer of knowledge. This knowledge transfer happens at the speed of light, and can happen just as easily with a Himalayan Sherpa as it can on Wall Street. It does so at so little cost that an average citizen anywhere can afford to tune in.

While social adaptations of information sharing are changing inter-personal relationships, today’s buy/sell transactions—like stock trading, for example—depend as much upon millisecond differences in transactional speed as they do upon the market data itself to maximize profit margins. A modern business must ride the information wave or be left behind by those who do.

Today, and even more so in the future, a business’ transactional effectiveness—profit margin—will be no better than its data sources.

Two years ago, with clear foresight, the United Potato Growers’ board of directors decided to find and implement a market information exchange across the fresh potato category. In a stroke of providential timing, Agricultural Market Analytics LLC (AgMA), a subsidiary of Face Forward Software in Yakima, Wash., had already developed a technology capable of securely extracting key market information, then linking suppliers of that information within a region and linking that region to other regions. The granularity of this information drills down to a selected SKU’s high, low and weighted average price, its price change from yesterday’s close, and the number of transactions happening daily within it, updated every 30 minutes. Once a shipper’s data is aggregated with that of other shippers in the same geographic region, the shipper/ sales organization can then compare its own market performance with that of its aggregated region and with that of any other region. Visit to learn more about this technology Under Jim Ehrlich’s leadership, Colorado’s Potato Administrative Committee implemented the AgMA system across its shippers. In Idaho, a group of forward-thinking shippers formed Idaho’s network, leading the state toward an embrace of the new technology.

At present, key shippers in Wisconsin and the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon’s Columbia Basin are undergoing beta testing and promise to be live soon. By year’s end the fresh potato category will reach unprecedented heights in transactional efficiency.

Knowledge truly is power! AgMA’s accurate pricing aggregates will help stabilize the potato market by exposing and resolving deceptive or inaccurate prices through the timely reporting of real prices rather than market hearsay.