PTI/FYI e-news: November/December 2012

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

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: PTI Leadership Council Agrees to Create New Buyer Working Group

At its most recent meeting, the PTI Leadership Council agreed that a buyer-centered implementation focus is needed to ensure continued industry movement toward case-level traceability. The Council decided to:

Read the full announcement here.

News: Wal-Mart’s Michael Agostini Accepts Co-Chair Post on Leadership Council

Michael Agostini, Senior Director, Produce, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, accepted the position of Leadership Council co-chair as Cathy Green Burns resigned from this volunteer post due to increased work commitments as President of Food Lion. Also co-chairing the Leadership Council is Doug Grant, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of The Oppenheimer Group.

“PTI is clearly better off today than it was four years ago when we started, and that is due in no small part to Cathy’s leadership,” said Agostini. “We should celebrate our success as we have collectively moved our industry to embrace and understand traceability with 229 members participating in our working groups developing best practice and guidance documents in support of our milestones.”

Agostini is responsible for the merchandising of key produce categories at Wal-Mart’s US Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, which currently total more than 3,000 retail stores nationwide. He also leads Wal-Mart’s produce technology efforts, which seek to leverage technical solutions to create innovative processes for Wal-Mart’s produce supply chain. A veteran of over 39 years in the produce and grocery industry, Agostini has recently served on the PMA Board of Directors and as Chair of the PMA Supply Chain Efficiencies Committee.

The executives of the four administering associations of the PTI thanked Green Burns in a letter for her commitment to leading the PTI over the last four years.

“Your vision and wisdom guiding the Leadership Council have been essential to encouraging the industry’s leading executives to deliver the necessary guidance and best practices along with the needed communications to move the industry toward progress for improved product traceability and food safety. Without your dedication, your unique perspective and skills, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today. We have seen industry participation grow and are still witnessing the deepening understanding of the benefits case-level traceability can bring about for individual companies as well as the industry as a whole,” the letter states.

Action: Join the New PTI Buyer Working Group

To address the remaining implementation challenges for the PTI, the Leadership Council is calling on all buyers supporting the initiative to join the newly forming PTI Buyer Working Group.

Who Should Join

Nominate or volunteer people who are directly responsible for PTI implementation at a buyer company to drive continued progress. The Buyer Working Group is seeking PTI project directors, IT or food safety directors directly involved with PTI implementation, as well as warehouse operations and supply chain directors and others who serve in critical functions supporting this implementation for traceability.

Objectives of the Group

Some of the key topics the Buyer Working Group is expected to address include the use of hybrid pallet tags, best approach to roll out implementations with suppliers, use of EDI Advance Ship Notices (ASNs), incorporating PTI implementations in mock recalls and other challenges affecting PTI milestones 6 and 7.

How to Join

Volunteers must be members in good standing of CPMA, GS1 US, PMA and/or United Fresh and work for a buyer company. Every effort will be made to accommodate all volunteers. Interested persons should contact Andrea Magnolo of GS1 US via email at [email protected] with their first and last name, title, company name, company phone number and email. The working group will report to the PTI Leadership Council and is expected to meet regularly starting early in 2013.

Action: Demonstrate Your Commitment to PTI

Across the supply chain, produce industry companies are discovering that implementing PTI can be a competitive advantage in the view of business partners. Full-chain traceability offers inventory control and cost efficiencies that can benefit the bottom line. Why not showcase your PTI advantage by displaying the PTI “button” as a link on your company website?

“Seeing a link to PTI on a company home page demonstrates a strong commitment to traceability, and that can be a competitive edge when dealing with others in the supply chain,” says Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management at United Fresh. “Showing that your company has adopted PTI says a lot about your standards and dedication to excellence in how you manage your part of the supply chain.”

When companies consider the advantages and investment costs of adding PTI systems, it helps to know which supply chain partners have already implemented PTI. What’s more, a hyperlink to the PTI website displayed on your company home page, offers your supply chain partners quick access to case studies, resources, news and information about getting started with PTI.

Place a PTI link on your home page today or contact Andrea Magnolo at [email protected] for more information.

News: PTI Labels Make Claims Process Smoother

In implementing PTI milestones, produce suppliers are finding unexpected benefits of using PTI labels in their claims processes. Sunkist Growers, Mastronardi Produce, and Wish Farms are among the companies reporting that using traceability data—GTINs with Batch/Lot Numbers—can speed up the claims process and provide straightforward resolutions to many types of claims.

“When we need to address discrepancies between what is on a manifest versus what was shipped, the PTI label is very helpful,” says Robert Quinn, director of sales administration for Sunkist Growers. “If the manifest lists size 72 navel oranges and the shipment includes size 113 navel oranges, the GTIN information can clear things up very quickly.”

According to Gary Wishnatzki, CEO of Wish Farms, using GS1 Standards for uniquely identifying cases of products is helping his company minimize damage when problems occur. “If there is excessive bruising on the fruit, for example, we can identify the case or pallet with the problem, and not have to discount the entire load,” he says.

Working with multiple farms and several packing and shipping facilities, Mastronardi Produce has also found that PTI case labels serve a critical role in being able to track product along the supply chain and identify pain points to address various claims.

“Case label information can provide proof and eliminate doubt about where and when a problem might have occurred or even what that problem may have actually been, whether initial quality or in transit damage,” says Joe Sbrocchi, vice president of sales and marketing at Mastronardi Produce, adding that using traceability data allows his company not only to resolve claims quicker, but also with a much higher degree of accuracy, and also to lay accountability exactly where it belongs. “To make the whole process go even smoother, it would be great if retailers and foodservice operators consistently incorporated digital images of the PTI labels into their inbound quality reports so that it ties it all together better. I believe this should become standard operating procedure. It will be helpful for the entire supply chain in the long run.”

News: Select Articles Discussing PTI Progress

The following is a selection of recent news articles and editorials reporting on the work of PTI volunteers.

The Packer, October 30, 2012 “Whether you are field packing, using a small open-air shed or running multiple lines in a high-tech facility, the challenges of traceability labeling are worth conquering, according to produce industry leaders.”

The Produce News, November 5, 2012 “The PTI milestones have been effective in guiding the industry step-by-step toward improved traceability and food safety…Moving forward, we need to support the new Buyer Working Group so industry members can effectively identify the best strategies to keep the momentum going for the PTI we have built over the last four years."