Today we’d like to introduce you to John & Leann Saunders.
After graduating from college, John moved to Colorado and immediately founded the company (originally as IMI Global) to provide livestock producers with traceability and source verification services to meet export market opportunities. It has been his only job for more than 20 years.
Today, Where Food Comes From, Inc. (along with its subsidiaries IMI Global, International Certification Services, Sterling Solutions, SureHarvest, and Validus Verification Services) is a publically traded company under the ticker symbol WFCF and audits to more than 30 independent standards for 12,000 plus farm and ranch customers. The company also works with some of the largest and most prestigious food companies in the world including Tyson Foods, Whole Foods Markets and McDonald’s. John is married to Leann Saunders, the co-founder and President of WFCF. Leann worked full time the first seven years John was starting the business so they could keep the dream alive. In 2003, she joined the WFCF team!
Knowing where their food comes from, how it was raised and all the rest is becoming less of an option and more of a deal-breaker with consumers.
“Consumer demand for more transparency and a sense of connection to where their food is grown or produced continues to have a significant impact on food supply chains,” according to a recent report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “At the retail level, customers are looking for labels that indicate farm management practices.”
Specifically, based on Nielsen data, the KED folks say products with some form of transparency claim on the label represent 31% of all sales, and that figure is increasing. Think here of labels indicating such things as “antibiotic-free” or “free of artificial ingredients.”
“You have customers who want to have a personal experience with their food,” says Leann Saunders, president and co-founder, Where Food Comes From Inc. “Retailers have had to increase the differentiation and diversity of their products with information about product attributes.”
The packer behind the pilot of a Canadian value chain for certified sustainable beef says its first three months are proof the model is scalable as well as functional.
The pilot’s first quarter “proved that a significant volume of beef can be successfully traced through a certified supply chain for the participating customers,” Gurneesh Bhandal, Cargill’s beef sustainability manager in Toronto, said in a company release Thursday.
“By adding more producers to the pilot, we can supply more customers with Canadian beef from sustainable sources.”
The project, dubbed the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration (CBSA) pilot, was set up to test and validate the audit and traceability systems needed to meet the requirements of the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework laid out by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).
The pilot project, which so far has taken in cattle from over 70 eligible producers, was able to “successfully” certify over 550,000 pounds of beef as per CRSB’s standards and supply chain guidelines, Cargill said.
For their first-quarter contributions, participating cattle ranchers received credit payments of $10 per head for “qualifying cattle that could be tracked through audited sustainable operations from farm to fork.”
The payments were funded by participating beef customers paying for meat delivered through an audited sustainable supply chain, Cargill said. Credit payments per head are expected to vary per quarter based on the total number of qualifying animals, participants’ beef demand and cattle weights.
BIXS, in its role as the clearing house for the pilot program, is expected to distribute the first round of credit payments to cattle producers by Monday (March 19), Cargill said.
To meet consumer demand and project goals, additional ranchers are needed to take part in the voluntary pilot program for the rest of the calendar year, the company said.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm we’ve seen and momentum that’s been generated in the first few months of the pilot,” Bhandal said, “and we are encouraged by the continued interest shown from additional cow-calf producers, feedlot operators and processing plants.”
(Winnipeg, Canada) March 15, 2018 – The first three months of Cargill’s Canadian beef sustainability pilot project yielded encouraging results, proving the model works and demonstrating significant potential to scale the program to deliver a greater volume of certified sustainable beef to Canadian consumers. The pilot is currently encouraging additional ranchers to participate in the pilot for the remainder of 2018.
The pilot was launched to test and validate the audit and traceability systems necessary to meet the requirements of the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework established by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). This framework, the first of its kind in the world, is a voluntary program that enables cattle producers and beef processors to demonstrate the sustainability of their operations while at the same time supporting the retail and food service industry in their sustainable beef sourcing efforts.
For contributions made during the first quarter of the pilot, participating cattle ranchers were rewarded $10-per-head for qualifying cattle that could be tracked through audited sustainable operations from farm to fork.
“We are encouraged by the pilot’s first quarter results. It proved that a significant volume of beef can be successfully traced through a certified supply chain for the participating customers,” said Gurneesh Bhandal, Cargill’s beef sustainability manager in Toronto. “By adding more producers to the pilot, we can supply more customers with Canadian beef from sustainable sources.”
First quarter results create momentum for remainder of 2018
During the first three months, the pilot tested and developed methodology for tracking eligible cattle through audited live animal supply chains. It also tested the methodology for tracking supply chain sustainability certifications from the beef carcass to finished products. By coupling live cattle and beef product traceability, Cargill’s Canadian customers can demonstrate the sustainability of their entire supply chain.
Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) – overseen by the Beef Cattle Research Council and operated with the assistance of provincial cattle organizations – is auditing cattle producers for sustainability during this pilot.
Continued. . .
Traceability discussed by Leann Saunders, COO and president of Where Food Comes From, a Denver based third-party agricultural and food verification company. featured in Food Safety News. This article is the second of a four part series.
Traceability, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner
GMO Free. Organic. Free Range. Grass-Fed. Gluten Free. Locally Grown. Cruelty Free. Product of this state. Product of that state – as grocery shoppers continually become more consciences of the products they drop into their carts, who is responsible for backing source claims made by food companies and retailers?
“At the retail level, we go throughout the store looking at products to verify and certify certain attributes,” said Leann Saunders, COO and president of Where Food Comes From, a Denver based third-party agricultural and food verification company.
“These attributes may be ingredients within a product, non-GMO compliance or verifying claims made on an egg carton for an animal welfare standard being practiced.”
According to Saunders, verifying and creating a traceability path to products and ingredients means things to different people, defined by, “how wide and deep are you going?”
“Traceability may be within their own operation and company, or it may trace back through the supply chain,” she said.
“When I think of traceability, I think of it being more farm to fork, with identify preservation of where a product is born or grown, traced through the supply chain.”
This detailed level of traceability, which can also track ingredient products within a single commodity is complex, with technology becoming an essential tool in collecting data throughout the supply chain.
“Electronic traceability not only removes human error, but is able to keep up with commerce,” said Saunders.
“But it is not cheap, and once you commit – you are committed for long-term as it can take years and a large amount of money to make changes.”
Where Food Comes From CEO & President featured in Colorado State University “Source” news for National Beef Quality Assurance win.
When the 2017 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and National Cattleman’s Beef Association Trade Show took place last month in Nashville, Colorado State University was well-represented with a number of faculty and staff from the Department of Animal Sciences as well as several CSU alumni attending the event. In fact, two CSU alumni took away major awards with Magnum Feedyard Co., LLC, owned by Steve Gabel (BS Animal Sciences ’78) receiving the 2017 National BQA Feedyard Award and IMI Global, owned by John and Leann Saunders (BS Agricultural Business ’92 and MAGR ‘94), received the 2017 National BQA Marketer Award.
A win for Colorado’s beef industry
“This is a win for Colorado’s beef industry,” said Libby Bigler, Colorado Beef Quality Assurance program coordinator. “Both IMI Global and Magnum Feedyard are great examples CSU alumni who are leaving their mark among Colorado cattle producers who have really embraced the BQA program. Both are excellent promoters of the BQA message not only to their fellow industry members but also to the consuming public.”
Where Food Comes From CEO John Saunders and SureHarvest President Jeff Dlott discuss the value of an innovative food system and the opportunities that come with it.
Mountain States’ Where Food Comes From Source Verified lamb featured in a tasty recipe where source is indicated as an important aspect of quality.
Feature on Cattleland Feedyard includes reference to Where Food Comes From’s work with the McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef program and the subsequent verification of Cattleland.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. President, Leann Saunders, quoted in a summary of the McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot in Canada.
Where Food Comes From is recognized as the third-party verifier for the McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef pilot in Canada.
The McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot project in Canada report is out, indicating 182 locations and 8,967 head of Canadian cattle were verified by Where Food Comes From, Inc. as a part of the process.
New Mexico has launched a new initiative to promote food products produced in the state, and Where Food Comes From Source Verified customers automatically comply.
Kathy Kaehler, celebrity fitness trainer and blogger discusses her new found love for American lamb and the value of knowing where your food comes from in her latest blog post. Oh, and she gives Where Food Comes From some love, too!
Jack Link’s buys snack division of Grass-Run Farms, a Where Food Comes From Source Verified product line.
Our President, Leann Saunders, is the subject of a Drovers feature profile on industry professionals.
President, Leann Saunders, and two long-time IMI Global verification customers featured in Drovers article on opportunities in value-added beef programs.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. measured as being “knowledgeable with reasonable expectations” by participants of the McDonald’s pilot project for Verified Sustainable Beef in Canada.
McDonalds publishes its criteria for the Verified Sustainable Beef pilot in Canada, a program exclusively verified by Where Food Comes From, Inc.
The Feed Verified program is featured in an article about the need to streamline livestock feed and supplement selection for certification programs.
Feed Verified, the newest program offering in the Where Food Comes From, Inc. suite of services, is discussed in an editorial by meatpoultry.com.
Creekstone Farms announces new Non-Gmo Project Verified beef product line, audited and verified by Where Food Comes From, Inc..
Where Food Comes From, Inc. President, Leann Saunders, featured in a discussion on the verification of sustainable beef production.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. highlighted in an update on the McDonald’s verified sustainable beef pilot project in Canada.
Labatt Food Services’ Native American Beef brand, a feature Where Food Comes From Source Verified product, highlighted in San Antonio news article.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. featured in the “Notable Edibles” section of the Spring 2015 edibleAspen Magazine, a member of the edible Communities family of magazines.
Mountain States Rosen rolls out new promotional campaign in conjunction with the 2015 Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, featuring Where Food Comes From labeled Shepherd’s Pride Lamb.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. mentioned in GreenBiz.com article featuring updates on the status of McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef initiative, including the involvement of Where Food Comes From’s verification expertise and services.
Food marketing, truth and transparency define consumer demands, and the success of Where Food Comes From, Inc.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. featured in article highlighting thirteen companies demonstrating how the “foodie revolution” is impacting consumer goods.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. President, Leann Saunders, presents at first annual International Livestock Forum at Colorado State University.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. President, Leann Saunders, elected as Chair of United States Meat Export Federation Board. (video)
Where Food Comes From, Inc. beef customer featured in Whole Foods national media campaign
National Geographic article features multiple IMI Global (A Where Food Comes From, Inc. Company) beef verification customers
Labatt Food Services features Where Food Comes From label in new Native American Beef video
Where Food Comes From beef verification customer recieves the “Producer Award” at the annual Grassfed Exchange Conference
Shepards Pride Lamb, a Where Food Comes From licensee, featured in popular Ohio Mom’s Blog
A beef verification customer and supplier to the Where Food Comes From labeled New Mexico Source Verified Beef brand features in New York Times article
More Coverage of Where Food Comes From Labeling Expansion
Heinen’s Fine Foods Adds Where Food Comes From label to Shepherd’s Price Lamb
Four Daughters Land and Cattle Features New Mexico Source Verified
Senior Editor Sarah Mikesell Features Where Food Comes From
Ann Burkholder Features IMI Global and Her Recent Progressive Beef Audit in Her Latest Blog.
Interview of Doug Stanton, Executive Vice President of Where Food Comes From.
“Best Burger in America – Where Food Comes From Audits World Renowned Wagyu Beef for M&R Cattle/Morgan Ranch partnership, which raises 2000 head of Wagyu/Angus calves annually for specialty markets worldwide.
Where Food Comes From President Leann Saunders Authors an Article: “The Value of Verified Production Claims”.
“Wrangling America’s Carbon Footprint”
IMI Global at Forefront of Technological Advancements in Beef Production
“Where’s the Beef?” – CSU Alum Leann Saunders and Where Food Comes From Featured
“Where’s the Beef (From)?”
World Famous Delmonico’s Steakhouse Adopts Where Food Comes From Program