BETTER TRACKING TOOLS IN SIGHT

As operators grapple with adopting category management principles with a minimum of standardized data in the fresh departments, industry groups are striving to fill the need of providing more reliable information.ds to be next on line.Still, retailers want details, and broad-based data is beginning to be warehoused and systems developed to use category management models.MTD Group, the Hazel Crest,

As operators grapple with adopting category management principles with a minimum of standardized data in the fresh departments, industry groups are striving to fill the need of providing more reliable information.

ds to be next on line.

Still, retailers want details, and broad-based data is beginning to be warehoused and systems developed to use category management models.

MTD Group, the Hazel Crest, Ill.-based research company which formerly produced the Deli D.A.T.E. and Bakery D.A.T.E. reports, is instituting a new product with category management issues in mind. This product offers weekly store-level and item-level tracking.

"Coding issues can be overcome," says Fran Pellettiere, principal. "Category plans can be done in perishables, but if retailers use the grocery template it is frustrating. In the case of deli category management, the identification of all brands in the market not in a retailer's case is not necessary. Deli needs to focus on what consumers are buying, not what's available."

The new program is expected to help retailers analyze what is selling and enable operators to adjust assortment and promotional plans, as well as tinker with pricing strategies.

The Uniform Code Council, Lawrenceville, N.J., is also embarking on an initiative to help quell retailer's insistence that 2,500 deli codes are just not enough. A Reduced Space Symbology -- 14 Stacked Program has been launched. Initially being introduced in the produce area, the program will enable the identification of manufacturers, packers and growers; the item number also makes allowances for grade or size. This will enable operators to get a level of detail that dry grocery is receiving now, officials said.

"The RSS family of codes expands identification," says Steve Arens, the UCC's director of food and beverage, UCC. "It also permits encoding in much more detail and removes the limits of the previously set codes."

RSS codes also allow for use-by and sell-by date information in addition to vendor source, information that permits better traceability throughout the supply chain.

"The amount of information available will enable perishables departments to take advantage of category management, decision support and space management systems," says Arens. "It will also improve through-put at the front end and improve accuracy."

A pilot program with Dorothy Lane Market, Dayton, Ohio, is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. Arens believes the test will prove the label's front-end benefits of faster consumer transaction, along with greater scan accuracy, a key CM component.