July 8, 2019

Data Storytelling and the Path to Success

By Marlene Hanken

What’s your favorite story? At Western Growers, we are interested in the most compelling story of all—the story of your success. But how do we gauge success? What do those metrics looks like and how do we calculate them?

Much like how the pirate Billy Bones used a treasure map to find buried treasure in Treasure Island, we use data to follow the path to the destination of success, checking our progress and redirecting efforts along the way. Data tells a story—where we’ve been, where we are, and, more importantly for our members, where we are going. As anyone knows, success is not a clear, unobstructed path—the journey is full of perils. As the agricultural industry evolves, so do the obstacles that go with it. The good news is, so is our approach on how to tackle those problems. This is where data comes into play.

To accomplish this we’ll need to harness our internal data sources as well as publicly available data sources, allowing us to carefully assess the produce industry’s climate and trends. To increase the accuracy and versatility of our internal data, we are reevaluating our data standards and auditing our records and procedures. To this effect we will be reaching out to our members through numerous efforts including phone calls, email communications, and surveys. (So don’t miss your opportunity to make sure our data most accurately reflects your products and services…be on the lookout for our phone calls and surveys!)

Simultaneously, we’ll be gathering data from external sources—from seed to harvest, grower to retailer, data can be utilized to improve efforts in ever-growing concerns such as Food Safety and Sustainability. Our goal is to compile and manage agricultural data from every corner of the industry to help us in our assessment efforts and to make those data available to you. We further intend to utilize data to improve communications along the supply chain, promote environmental stewardship, aid in the advocacy efforts, and assess the economic climate of the agricultural industry as a whole.

Our current data efforts are focused primarily on the present state of Western Growers membership with our eyes on the future. Short-term goals include member demographics analysis with the intent to make sure our services are focused where they should be.

In the near future, we’ll be taking a look at the effects of irrigation and weather on nutrient loading—with a further look at ranges and occurrences of nutrients in the environment and how they are impacting member crops. Our more ambitious projects will be fresh produce tracking from grower to retailer, food safety recall fallout mitigation, and food safety source tracking and prevention.

In reality, the possibilities and directions we can take with data are endless…so we need your input to help us guide our efforts.

Are you as excited about our data efforts as we are? Here’s how you can get involved. Email us at [email protected] pertaining to any of the topics below:

1.  Send Us Questions Let us know the questions you always ask but can’t answer because you lacked the data. What do the products look like that would help you answer those questions? Is it a map, a chart, a graph, etc.? This will allow us to focus our data efforts more effectively.

2.  Share Your Sources What data source(s) do you frequently utilize both internally and external to your operations? We’d love to talk to them and put in the work so you don’t have to.

3.  Volunteer Your Data You can email us data your organization has compiled or produced. Because our products aim at serving our members foremost, we’ll need member data to help us develop the tools that help you. We have MOUs and data sharing protocols in place to protect you and your data so your data is safe and secure*

4.  Show Us the Goods We would love to see the data tools you already use so we can add further utility to your efforts, not redundancy.


We look forward to propelling you forward on your journey to success!


*Contact us at [email protected] for details on how your data will be anonymized as well as kept safe and confidential where needed.