Produce Traceability Initiative Survey Finds Widespread Progress

A recent survey to gauge produce industry members’ adoption of the seven Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) milestones indicates companies are making widespread progress. The findings were announced after a presentation at the PTI’s Leadership Council meeting, held in conjunction with United Fresh 2012.

The PTI began in 2008 as a voluntary initiative to achieve supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability of every case of produce by the end of 2012.

A diverse group of 228 companies representing all produce industry sectors and a broad array of sizes responded to invitations to complete the survey, led by four categories: growers, packers/repackers, shippers and distributors. Demand-side respondents, comprising distributors, retailers, foodservice operators and wholesalers or terminal markets, constituted 23 percent of the respondents.

The survey was open to all produce companies, regardless of whether they have been active in PTI activities.

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 storing all or some data on inbound cases.

Relatively few companies declared an unwillingness to participate in the initiative, with only 7 percent of brand owners saying they do not plan to meet the entry-level milestones.

“We are very pleased with the results from the survey,” says Cathy Green Burns, co-chair of the PTI Leadership Council and President of Food Lion.  “We’ve made great progress with this initiative, especially among suppliers who are leading the way with traceability implementation.  Based on the survey results, we plan to redouble our efforts to engage buyers to complete our vision of whole-chain traceability.”

Co-chair Doug Grant, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of The Oppenheimer Group, concurred. “We have so many companies and individuals making progress against the PTI milestones, and these survey numbers take us beyond the anecdotal to demonstrate to the industry and those watching the industry just how far we’ve moved the needle. The industry should be proud.”

Respondents also indicated that they want the PTI administering organizations—the Produce Marketing Association, Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 US and United Fresh—to continue providing education and communications on PTI issues after the end of the year, as companies continue to hit milestones and focus on implementations.

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