PTI FYI e-news: May/June 2013

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

In This Update

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

In This Update

News: Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club Issue Vendor Letter for PTI Requirements

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club recently issued a letter to their suppliers announcing that effective November 1, 2013, all fresh commodity produce delivered to a Wal-Mart Distribution Center will be required to have standardized case labels, consistent with PTI best practices. Read the full letter here and work with your Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club buyer/sourcer for any additional detail or with questions you have.

News: Update from Leadership Council Meeting Produce Traceability Initiative Momentum Continues as Buyers Prepare for Implementation Roll-outs

Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council members agree the increasing percentage of produce cases marked with PTI labels is a reassuring sign that momentum for PTI continues supported by buyers who are preparing to receive, record and store PTI compliant label information later this year. The Leadership Council, representing 32 companies in the produce industry, held its biannual meeting last week in conjunction with United Fresh 2013 Discover Fresh Horizons event in San Diego, California, and reported that buyers are seeing between 22 and 50 percent of produce cases with PTI labels at their distribution centers and other facilities.

The council discussed implementation activities and progress made by both the grower/packer/shipper and buyer community, including a pilot project report about the benefits of using Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) as an alternative to hybrid pallet tags to facilitate sharing Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Batch/Lot Numbers, and other key data elements useful for produce traceability. Read the full press release about the Leadership Council meeting here.

Case Study: Mushrooming Benefits of Traceability

Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms implemented case-level traceability to achieve real-time inventory management that enables the company to fulfill orders quickly and accurately, to improve its recall process that now takes minutes with automated traceability compared to hours with a paper-based system, and to enhance operational efficiencies that reduces labor-intensive tasks for greater productivity. Read full case study here.

News: Buyer Working Group Prioritizes Implementation Needs

PTI’s Buyer Working Group has hit the ground running, having met four times since being formed in January to develop best practice documents to help retail, wholesale and foodservice buyers implement PTI. The working group now has 25 members, including 17 buyer companies. Group members have identified four priorities to help receivers implement PTI’s final steps, Milestones 6 and 7: developing hybrid pallet labeling best practices for produce receivers; best practices for rolling out PTI; advising when and how to use electronic Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) vs. hybrid pallet labels; and guiding processes for reading and storing outbound case information.

A subgroup began drafting receiver hybrid pallet labeling best practices earlier this year; other PTI working groups will review the draft in June. A best practice document on this subject is expected to be made public this summer. Watch PTI FYI and the PTI website for updates.

Are you a retail or foodservice buyer who is implementing PTI? Please contact Buyer Working Group Co-Chairs Teri Miller of Delhaize or Ed Treacy of PMA to share lessons you’ve learned. We want to hear your story!

News: FMI Update on Traceability

At the PTI Leadership Council meeting in May, Hilary Thesmar, VP of Food Safety Programs at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), provided an update on FMI projects focused on traceability-related issues. As a result of the FMI Food Protection Committee (FPC) identifying traceability as one of its priority areas for 2013, the FPC held a traceability roundtable in early April with participation from Leavitt Partners, GS1 US, the Institute of Food Technologists and Tyson Foods to add up-to-date expertise and broad perspective to industry questions around traceability.

The FPC also identified the most important factors related to improving traceability of food, and having full upstream supply chain visibility tops the list—followed by implementation and operations costs, protection of public health and ability to identify implicated products during investigations, having all suppliers adopt either the same system or different systems that are interoperable, and improving consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.

“The FPC recommends support for the Produce Traceability Initiative as the best place to start with implementing traceability at distributions centers and retail,” said Thesmar. “We also recognize that interdepartmental support for traceability projects is critical for successful implementations. Information technology and services, food safety, quality assurance, operations and merchandising are the key collaborators within retail companies for developing effective traceability processes.”

In addition, the Fresh Foods Executive Council is focused on identifying issues and activities and developing tools and resources most needed by the industry to improve operations. The work of this group will aim to reduce duplication of effort and to maximize common learnings from various fresh food categories. Food traceability is one of several “collaborations points” identified by the group including government relations, labor and training, private label/branding, as well as natural/organic products and sustainability.

For more information, visit

Resources: Complete Your PTI Scorecard and Join us on LinkedIn

Have you completed your PTI Scorecard? Have you made implementation progress since the last time you answered the scorecard questions? Be sure to visit the PTI website and update your scorecard information here. The PTI community is also active on LinkedIn; join the Official Produce Traceability Initiative Group here.

PTI in the News

Capital Press: May 29, 2013 “Produce industry leaders involved in a voluntary effort to facilitate traces of recalled foods say they're pleasantly surprised by the number of packers and shippers already using the special tracking labels they've developed.”

The Produce News: May 24, 2013 “Produce Traceability Initiative Leadership Council members agree the increasing percentage of produce cases marked with PTI labels is a reassuring sign that momentum for PTI continues.”

The Produce News: May 22, 2013 “Mike Agostini, senior director of produce for Walmart, expects that several major retailers will fully implement the Produce Traceability Initiative by the end of this year. And he expects that will cause a domino effect with other retailers following suit.”

The Packer: May 16, 2013 “The momentum for the Produce Traceability Initiative appeared to be picking up at United Fresh 2013 after being stalled for much of last year. There is an expectation that large retailers will begin to ask their suppliers to become PTI compliant this year.”