MEAT, POULTRY SOURCING WEB SITES CRACK SHELL

ATLANTA -- Attendees at the International Poultry Exposition here found a number of e-commerce companies introducing Web sites devoted to the sourcing of poultry products. Many used the occasion to test-drive the engines, which feature services designed to facilitate the buying and selling process.BR And yet another company, FoodUSA.com, Madison, Wis., though not at the show, announced a pilot exchange

ATLANTA -- Attendees at the International Poultry Exposition here found a number of e-commerce companies introducing Web sites devoted to the sourcing of poultry products. Many used the occasion to test-drive the engines, which feature services designed to facilitate the buying and selling process.

BR> And yet another company, FoodUSA.com, Madison, Wis., though not at the show, announced a pilot exchange for March that is to bring together 30 to 50 high-volume buyers and sellers of meat and poultry products.

Each company stresses different aspects of the business -- Agribuys.com has opened systems for other commodities like seafood and produce. FoodUSA.com is dedicated specifically to meat, while Poultryfirst.com exclusively handles chicken.

Agribuys.com provides space for buyers to post an RFQ that specifies both quantity and type of product desired. The responses from suppliers arrive in less than five minutes in most cases, say company officials. The site also handles transaction logistics, including transportation, through an on-line system that features direct links to several national carriers, as well as a feature that permits customers to track the location of the shipment. Just-introduced features include the ability to use "standing" personalized order forms and automatic supplier quoting that expedites repeat purchasing procedures.

Poultryfirst.com integrates Web-based technology and international market information to create an expansive on-line auction, according to company officials. Part of the goal of the new e-commerce site is to permit smaller sellers to penetrate new market opportunities that in the past have been the realm of large processors, who exercise more power through their advertising and marketing dollars. The company plans soon to develop additional services that include more extensive and personalized content, community links and on-line catalogs that provide access to production equipment.

FoodUSA.com uses technology already used in exchanges for other industries, said company officials. When it goes on-line later this year, FoodUSA.com will operate as a simple bid/ask system, providing data-metric tools to help companies enhance productivity. The site seeks to enhance profitability of the participating companies through reducing transaction times, convening larger audiences of buyers and sellers, and streamlining transportation and credit issues. It will also provide up-to-date news and information affecting the meat industry, they said.