In This Update
PTI Leadership Council Supports Staying the Course
The Produce Traceability Initiative Leadership Council (PTI LC) representing every facet of the produce supply chain held its biannual meeting on October 23 at the PMA Fresh Summit in Atlanta, GA. The agenda for the meeting included brief updates about working group status/activities, regulatory news, and GS1 US initiatives supporting traceability in retail grocery and foodservice. Matt Rogers from Whole Foods Market Produce also addressed the group about the retailer’s efforts to leverage PTI data in their operations.
In addition, council members discussed the results of a survey that LC members completed to help determine future direction for the PTI. Survey results confirmed that the PTI LC believes more buyer involvement is needed to drive continued momentum for PTI activities, and that anticipated proposed rules to implement the traceability component of the Food Safety Modernization Act will most likely be the key impetus to make that happen. LC members also agreed:
PTI Implementation is Possible for All, Even Very Small, Growers
It’s not easy being a grower: you have the challenge of growing your products, harvesting and marketing them, and keeping up with all the new buyer requirements. So, it’s understandable for smaller independent growers to ask “Why should I care about PTI?”
In the summer of 2015, Nena Padilla started growing five acres of organic heirloom tomatoes. She was nervous about how she was going to be able to sell all her tomatoes having minimal access to wholesale markets, but then she heard about a local grower cooperative. Nena decided to sell some of her organic heirlooms through Top 10 Produce LLC on mixed pallets with another five independent farmers in her area who also grow heirloom tomatoes. Top 10 helped her label her cases with her name (brand) and a unique Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) with Batch/Lot Numbers for her tomatoes, so now Nena doesn’t have to worry about being blamed for another grower’s poor quality issues.
Here’s a brief Q&A with Nena about her experience with starting her PTI implementation.
Q: Was it difficult getting your farm to implement PTI best practices?
A: No, it was as simple as a phone call. If I had to do it alone, it might have been more difficult, but as a member of Top 10 Produce, I received lots of help from them for my PTI labels.
Q: How long does it take you to label a pallet of tomatoes?
A: I label each case as I finish harvesting, so I am not sure how long a pallet would take, but it is easy to do with the pre-printed labels.
Q: PTI only requires a case label. Why do you also use the GS1 DataBar barcode on item labels?
A: Mostly, when I started labeling to the item level I did it because I just like the way all the tomatoes look with my name on them. But since some retail buyers now require the GS1 DataBar barcode labels, being able to label on the item level helps me meet buyer requirements and stay competitive.
Q: What is the main benefit that you receive as a grower by using PTI labels?
A: No, Since PTI is voluntary, I am free to label or not label my product to best serve my own business interests as an independent farmer.
Note: Several member companies of the PTI Technology Working Group indicated they have low-cost solutions to help small and very small businesses to easily implement PTI best practices. Their solutions have not been vetted by PTI, so please contact a vendor directly for solution details. Please check the solution/technology provider list on the PTI website for more information. (Membership in the PTI Technology Working Group is open to any company that is a member in good standing with any one of the PTI administering organizations, and does not require certification. No endorsement of a company's capabilities or expertise is made or implied by inclusion in this group.)
New Guides Aid Trace-Back Data Sharing, Standardizing Location Identification
Produce industry companies now have two new guidance documents to help implement traceability, to help respond to requests for trace-back data and to help assign unique identifiers for company locations.
The new Guidance for Sharing Trace-Back Data, developed by a task force of the PTI Implementation Working Group with participation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is designed to help companies respond to requests for trace-back data in the event of a recall or other product withdrawal. The guidance outlines the types and formats of data a company may be asked to provide to regulators, trading partners or others. The guide introduces Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) and Key Data Elements (KDEs) to track and share during trace-back investigations, and recommends a data format for documenting KDEs.
While PTI does not require use of KDEs and CTEs, they are becoming generally-accepted global traceability standards. CTEs are the various points in the supply chain at which data should be captured to document product movement. KDEs are recorded for each CTE, and encompass two types of data: Master Data, and Physical Event Data. The guidance recommends the types of Physical Event Data to be shared for each CTE.
The new Guidance for Global Location Number (GLN) Assignment defines a standardized approach for creating location identifiers for use in internal and external traceability systems. While not mandated by PTI, such standardization allows advanced use of traceability information for those companies looking to take traceability to the next level.
The GLN assignment guidance standardizes how company, farm or other locations are described and their geolocation is assigned. It also promotes efficient use of a brand owner’s GS1 Company Prefix. This guidance was developed by the Implementation Working Group and reviewed by the PTI Technical Working Group.
New Foodservice Traceability Sub-Group Looks to Leverage Supply Chain Visibility
Consumers today are empowered more than ever before to learn about the food they consume. They research ingredients on their smartphones prior to purchase. They are more aware of food recalls and their reach. They want to know if their food was sourced locally, organically grown, or raised sustainably. To better serve these demands, the foodservice industry is uniting to focus on a proactive approach to traceability.
The Foodservice Traceability Sub-Group of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative was launched in August to develop industry-specific guidance and recommendations to support enhanced traceability, including the implementation of GS1-128 barcodes and Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCCs). Recognizing this as an opportunity to keep consumers safer and to gain operational efficiencies, participating foodservice distributors, manufacturers, co-ops and operators have joined together to determine the best path forward that benefits all supply chain partners. These diverse voices are seeking to accomplish several objectives through regular calls, including:
The group is aiming to publish a guideline in early 2016 to support the implementation of GS1 Standards for supply chain visibility.
Complete or Update Your PTI Scorecard
If you have not yet created your PTI scorecard, or if you have made progress since the last time you answered the scorecard questions and want to update your scorecard information, be sure to visit the PTI website here.
On behalf of the four administering organizations of PTI, we wish you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!