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Case Study – Waveney Mushrooms

Background

Waveney Mushrooms is a co-operative of small and medium-sized mushroom growers based close to the Norfolk / Suffolk border.

Established in 1990, the BRC accredited mushroom company supplies to some of the major retailers, in addition to large wholesalers and catering companies. Supplying 80 tons of freshly picked mushrooms every week, Waveney Mushrooms employs 200 staff who are involved in picking, packing and delivering fresh mushrooms to their customers 364 days of the year.

Challenge

Supplying to leading supermarkets and retailers means that Waveney Mushrooms must comply with standards and specifications set by each supermarket and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

To meet these requirements and show due diligence in their production processes, they wanted a system which would automate legislative requirements, as well as evidence full traceability of products from field to fork.

Solution

A Stevens Traceability System was installed at Waveney Mushroom’s purpose-built packing site to provide full traceability of mushrooms from when they arrive off the farms, to when they leave packaged ready for distribution by their fleet of refrigerated lorries.

At goods in, the operator receives crates of unpackaged mushrooms on pallets delivered from different farms. On arrival, they are counted and booked into Stevens ‘Stock’ at the Stevens weighing station and terminal. Within the Stevens stock software module, the operator enters which farm the mushrooms have come from, the number of outers and approximate weight of the punnets along with the date and time received. (This information is stored centrally and is available at any time).

The mushrooms are then taken to the packing lines, where an operator uses a Stevens ‘Job’ terminal to add a job or select a scheduled job, on the Stevens system*.

The mushrooms are loaded onto the conveyors where they are packed accordingly for the selected job; by mushroom type and weight e.g. 200 grams of button mushrooms. Individual mushrooms are then added to, or removed from the punnets, which are weighed on a checkweigher to ensure they meet legal weight standards.

At the end of the production line, on a Stevens ‘Packaging’ terminal, the operator is asked to answer several quality questions that are tailored to the particular customer they are packing for. At this stage of the process, the Stevens software provides information such as the farm the mushrooms were grown in, expiry dates, lot number, weights and quantities that are then printed onto product release labels, then attached to the outer crate.

Once the mushrooms are packaged and labelled, they are added to a pallet which is recorded in the system detailing the picker (operator) and the number of crates of punnets on each pallet.

A report is also produced for each job which details general batch information, together with the results of bespoke quality questions such as best before date, class, and county of origin to satisfy the customer/supermarket requirements.

*All commodities, tolerances, jobs and quality questions are set within Stevens Management software.

Stevens Management allows Waverley Mushrooms to:

  • Add commodities
  • Build product specifications
  • Build questions and answers (for quality control and supermarket compliance)
  • Add operators and manage privileges
  • Access a range of reports

The Results

Waveney Mushrooms can easily show due diligence in their processes from Stevens reports which pulls data from the system from different areas of the business including goods in, production and packaging.

With pre-defined quality questions input in the system via Management, operators cannot miss vital information required by supermarkets and other customers.

What’s more, because the mushrooms are accounted for as soon as they arrive at Waveney Mushroom’s processing facility, there is less wastage resulting in increased profitability and reduced environmental impact.