PTI/FYI e-news: May/June 2012

What’s new with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI)? This edition of PTI FYI includes:

In This Update

For more information, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy, United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, CPMA’s Jane Proctor or Angela Fernandez at GS1 US

In This Update

News: The Results Are In! PTI Implementation Survey Finds Widespread Progress Toward All Milestones

A diverse group of 228 companies representing all produce industry sectors and a broad array of sizes, responded to invitations to complete the PTI Implementation Survey.

Highlights of the PTI Implementation Survey results include:

About 84 percent of responding suppliers reported they are communicating GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to receivers, while 77 percent of all brand owners said that they have assigned GTINs to some or all of their produce cases.

Meanwhile, 88 percent of receivers report they are receiving cases with incoming GTINs, and 75 percent of receivers report they are reading or planning on reading data on some or all inbound cases. Receivers lag suppliers on implementations, but are making headway, with 43 percent of receivers reporting they are totally or partially equipped for reading inbound PTI-recommended data, and 40 percent of receivers are storing all or some data on inbound cases.

News: PTI Helps Drive Change for Standardized RPC Labeling

Three large retailers—Kroger, Loblaw, and Safeway—have agreed to accept a new standard 4”x 2” label for Returnable Plastic Containers (RPCs) following an industry collaboration driven by PTI volunteers.

The change guides a level of standardization to RPC labeling and provides a cost effective solution for produce suppliers. The effective date of the change, transition plans and other details regarding the new RPC labels have been or will be communicated individually by each retailer to its trading partners.

News: Leadership Council Update From United Fresh Produce Show in Dallas

The PTI Leadership Council met May 2 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the United Fresh 2012 Produce Show. The agenda included pilot reports from several buyers and updates from the various PTI working groups. The results of the 2012 PTI Implementation Survey were also revealed and discussed (see related story).

Representatives from multiple retailers and foodservice companies updated the council on their progress with implementing PTI milestones. These organizations included Charlie’s Produce, Darden, Delhaize/Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Stater Brothers, and Supervalu. Most of these companies have completed Milestones 1-6 and are currently working toward reading and scanning information on outbound cases (Milestone 7). All of them expressed their continued commitment to PTI implementations and active involvement in the PTI working groups (see related story).

As a special guest of the Council, Tejas Bhatt, Staff Scientist from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), commented briefly on the ongoing IFT/FDA product tracing pilots and requested PTI volunteers to share their PTI implementation costs with IFT for inclusion in their report to the FDA. (Update: IFT is appreciative of the response to this request. Many companies responded. The costs were summarized and provided to IFT anonymously on behalf of PTI).

Chairpersons of the volunteer-led PTI working groups spoke to the council about on-going projects and recently created tools and resources for the industry. The PTI Implementation Working Group has seen a busy first quarter with the release of two best practice documents and two new webinars focused on produce brokers as well as those repacking or commingling product. In the coming months the group will be working on best practice guidance for importers and also for completing the final PTI milestone—reading and storing information on outbound cases.

The Communications Working Group presented the summary results of the recently completed PTI Implementation Survey. The survey found that a significant majority of brand owners have implemented the PTI and buyers continue to work toward Milestone 7.

The Master Data Working Group reported on their work to build a business case and rationale for the use of Advance Ship Notices, and the recently completed Best Practice for Private Label/Brand. The Technology Working Group updated the Council on the formation of a special task force to develop technical guidance for the use of Advance Ship Notices in the produce industry. Both the business case and technical guidance documents will be combined and posted on in the near future.

The PTI Leadership Council stays actively involved through bimonthly conference calls. Its member companies hail from across the supply chain, including produce sellers and buyers. For more information about the Leadership Council or its work, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy, United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, CPMA’s Jane Proctor or Angela Fernandez at GS1 US.

News:Traceability at Darden: Forging Ahead with PTI and Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative

Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company with core brands that include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and many other well-known establishments operated by Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group.

At the May PTI Leadership Council meeting, Darden provided an update on the important work it is involved in with “marrying” PTI with the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative as well as leveraging the traceability guidance developed for the seafood industry and the meat and poultry industry.

“Traceability is at the heart of all of these voluntary industry efforts,” said Ana Hooper, Vice President of Total Quality for Darden. “By working with our trading partners to implement the guidance that has been created for all the food categories, we are improving product traceability and ultimately enhancing food safety for our customers.”

As a founding member and active participant in these industry initiatives, Darden laid out a vision of what it calls the “Darden Direct Supply” – a transformational program to automate supply chain processes to link supply and demand information while increasing traceability and reducing costs for everyone along the supply chain.

To facilitate the flow of product information, Darden has committed to using GS1 Standards and set milestones for its suppliers to phase in compliance over a period of time. Earlier this year Darden suppliers were asked to obtain GS1 issued company prefixes, assign GLNs to all locations, and GTINs to all products and communicate all of this information to Darden.

Dec. 2012 marks the milestone for suppliers to scan and store case-level barcode information on shipments to distribution centers with the next step being that distributors scan and store this same information on outbound shipments as well.

“By the end of the year, we are aiming to have all suppliers incorporate case-level barcodes with corresponding GTINs and Lot/Batch information;” said Hooper. “We are confident that using industry-vetted standards such as GS1 will drive mutual benefits, including increased productivity, reduced administrative costs and improved traceability to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Darden owns and operates more than 1,900 restaurants across North America, employing 180,000 employees and serving more than 400 million meals annually. To learn more about the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, visit

Resources: New Checklists and Updated Best Practices for Private Label/Brand

Two implementation checklists—one for growers/packers/shippers and one for receivers/buyers—and an updated private label/brand best practice document were recently posted to the Resources and Tools page to help companies with PTI implementation.

The PTI Receiver/Buyer Checklist and the PTI Growers/Packers/Shippers Checklist were designed to help facilitate the implementation of traceability guidelines and best practices established by the PTI.

The Best Practices for Private Label/Brand document was developed to assist private label brand owners and their packers in meeting PTI requirements as well as formalizing current industry practices for PTI compliant case labeling for private label/brand products.

News: Be Sure to Join the Official Produce Traceability Group on LinkedIn

The PTI Communications Working Group is calling for you and your trading partners to join The Official Produce Traceability Initiative Group on LinkedIn to participate in discussions related to PTI implementations. It’s a great way to stay engaged with trading partners and enhance information sharing within the PTI community.