U.S. Identity Preserved is a symbol of certainty, traceability, and food safety that U.S. exporters of high-value, high-quality grains and oilseeds are signing up en masse to use since its introduction at the end of last year. The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA), a national association of companies focused on the production, processing, and shipping of field crops worldwide, developed U.S. Identity Preserved, an assurance plan and accompanying brand mark (Figure 1) and website to meet growing demand for transparency in the food production supply chain.
Commenting on the program, Rob Prather, Chief Strategic Ambassador at Global Processing Inc. and SSGA Chair, said, "As a launch partner, Iowa-based Global Processing will begin using this new, industry-defining mark that signifies the value of U.S. Identity Preserved field crops. This program enhances our offerings in sustainable, traceable, and regenerative products ensuring a stable, consistent, and healthy global food supply."
While Global Processing has earned various certifications to prove the safety and quality of its products and differentiate them from other grains, the U.S. Identity Preserved program is different, Prather said.
"This program allows customers to verify for themselves what they will receive when buying a U.S. Identity Preserved product," he noted.
Consumers are increasingly "calling the shots" when it comes to the food they purchase and eat, and food manufacturers are responding. In Asia, companies are seeking U.S. Identity Preserved soybeans and specialty grains that feature specific traits that improve the quality, consistency, and value of their products—soy products like tofu, soymilk, edamame, tempeh, and natto, as well as grains for baking and distilling.
U.S. farmers can grow segregated crops with specific qualities, including but not limited to variety, protein and sugar levels, color, bean size and flavor. Processors clean, sort, package, distribute, and ship those crops via container. Chain of custody is traced throughout the process, and the crops are untouched until they reach the customer.
"The value that U.S. Identity Preserved processors offer comes through the strict protocols and safety measures that ensure the quality, consistency, and security of their products throughout the value chain," remarked Eric Wenberg, SSGA's Executive Director. "Identity Preserved products demand a premium because of the close attention that Identity Preserved farmers, processors and shippers pay to quality requirements and safety, and the commitment to fulfill the needs of their customers."
Growers take great care to avoid any cross-contamination, adhering to field verifications and program audits, chain-of-custody verification, proper labeling, product identification, and other checks and assurances. The U.S. Identity Preserved assurance plan includes third-party training, auditing, and verification processes at the core of the program—all of which provide growers and processors reassurance for how to achieve the ability to use the brand mark. Buyers can achieve assurance of the care and handling their products receive even prior to planting.
"With our U.S. Identity Preserved designation, we're delivering a quality assurance plan that brings together the U.S. Identity Preserved industry and reinforces the U.S. as a quality origin for those Identity Preserved crops," Wenberg said. "U.S. Identity Preserved will help U.S. processors and exporters broaden access and open more foreign markets, as well as better compete in the international market."