Produce Traceability Proposal Rejected

SALISBURY, N.C. — The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council, which oversees the development of the food industry's effort to develop a standard traceability system for produce, has rejected a proposal to alter one of the Initiative's key technology elements.

SALISBURY, N.C. — The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council, which oversees the development of the food industry's effort to develop a standard traceability system for produce, has rejected a proposal to alter one of the Initiative’s key technology elements.

The Leadership Council recently voted against the short-term use of less detailed, "commodity- or variety-general" base GTINs (global trade item numbers) as an identifier of produce cases moving through the supply chain. The proposal was raised after members of several PTI working groups pointed out the difficulties some companies were experiencing in implementing "configuration-unique" GTINs for produce cases. The base GTIN would allow companies more time to implement the unique GTIN.

Tracking of the GTIN, in combination with a lot number or pack/harvest date for each produce case, provides the electronic traceability sought by the PTI.

The PTI Leadership Council, consisting of companies throughout the produce supply chain, voted 21-7 against the proposal, including seven no votes by retail members.

"It is clear from Council members' comments that even interim use of base GTINs would not be a practical solution for the industry overall," said a release issued by GS1 US, the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

For example, many receivers reported that their data management systems require unique GTINs to map to specific stock-keeping units (SKUs), and could not handle both base and unique GTINs concurrently."

"We are committed to being flexible and sensitive to industry members' needs, and this proposal was developed with a lot of thought about ways we could keep the initiative moving forward," said Cathy Green Burns, chair of the Leadership Council and chief executive officer of the four banners operated by Food Lion here (Food Lion, Bloom, Harveys and Reid's). "With the goal milestones and timelines unchanged, our attention will return to how we can best help members overcome barriers to implementation."

Green Burns urged suppliers and retailers to contact their supply chain partners as soon as possible to discuss implementation status. She also noted that the Leadership Council and working groups would consider how to assist companies with GTIN implementation.

She also invited industry members to participate in new pilot projects aimed at addressing PTI implementation costs, labor needs, benefits and time requirements. Contact Ed Treacy at the PMA for more information.