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US software developer looks to streamline feed mill operations

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Aerin Curtis

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

Last updated on 08-Sep-2017 at 10:33 GMT2017-09-08T10:33:07Z

© iStock/ipopba
© iStock/ipopba

US company, Sprout Solutions, is using tools from the world of finance to addressing feed milling challenges. 

The company has developed software technology to improve feed and feed ingredient traceability, feed mill management and commodity trading. 

Gretchen Henry, co-founder and CEO of Sprout Solutions, has a background in financial recordkeeping programs with an emphasis on federal requirement compliance. 

“I realized there was a real need to help [the feed industry] with the same things – record keeping, auditing and compliance,” she told FeedNavigator. “We started building programs for feed mills.”

The idea was to develop feed-focused software to answer common questions, she said.

She said looked to see what feed management elements were needed to be addressed daily and how software could take those repeatable processes out and empower the end users to focus on the things that aren’t repeatable to make the whole process more efficient. 

“It was really working through that process and seeing where we could improve those things – whether it’s their margins, price products over periods or blends."

“It was really taking the operational efficiencies from the financial world and taking it into the agricultural world,” she said. It focuses on areas like feed and ingredient traceability and offering Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) support along with managing margins and cost more efficiently.

“For the feed mills [the software] takes everything from managing positions, and CRM [customer relationship management], and taking all their orders and interfacing with the accounting, and commissions and those type of things – so it streamlines,” she said. “For commodity traders, it’s managing positions, and it’s robust analytics to help them based on past history.”  

There also is a joint product that merges the two systems, she said. “Even if part of the [platform] is allocated for their customers and part for the mill – they can take a longer ingredient position and drive down costs, – and have overall position management over their grain or commodity contracts,” she added.

The software platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed on multiple devices whether it is a computer, tablet or smart phone, she said.  

“We’re in the southeast right now, and we’d like to reach into the Midwest and beyond,” she said. “It’s cloud-based and easy to train [people on] remotely."

The company was launched at the end of 2016 and is currently working to close a seed round by the end of 2017, she said.

Removing the ‘pain’ from FSMA

In addition to streamlining processes within a feed mill, the company sought to develop software with an understanding of the regulatory environment, said Henry.

“We’ve taken the training for FSMA [the Food Safety Modernization Act], and studied the Safe Feed/Safe Food [program] and implemented several different features within our application,” she said. “We have checks and balances so when a new ration or formulation is implemented in a feed mill, all the requirements are met before that ration is available for selling and for everything that is consumed we know all the lot numbers, everything around the delivery of the product.”

The tracing includes knowing all consumers who have purchased the feed and how much remains at the mill, she said. For mills taking part in the Safe Feed/Safe Food program, it also limits carriers and suppliers to those that are also certified.

"We want to help with reducing the burden of paperwork so [feed mills] can focus on what their strength is and let us take the pain out of the compliance part of it.”

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