The final milestone in the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) has been completed.
Three produce organizations-the Produce Marketing Association, Canadian Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association-came together in 2007 to create the PTI, a voluntary, industry-wide effort aimed at creating a traceability process that will enable the quick and efficient electronic tracking and tracing of produce cases between supply chain members. (See our Jan. 2011 issue, page 30.)
Seven key milestones were identified to achieve a chain-wide, electronic traceability. All of those milestones have now been achieved.
In a webinar in mid-December, Redline Solutions CEO Todd Baggett explained what is required of grower-shippers for PTI compliance. He says that, first and foremost, you must print and apply a PTI label to each case of product you ship. That label will include a unique Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) that identifies the brand owner and the product combination.
The second important part for traceability is a lot number, which allows trace-back to the pack location and the dates.
"The pack lots always need to trace back to the source lot for complete traceability indicates of recall," he says.
Third, you must be able to track the lots and the items that are shipped to the customers. That includes tracking the cases to the pallet, including any mixed pallets, and any changes that are made to those pallets.
Baggett points out that a lot of people ask him where they need to start. He says the company that will have its brand on the product needs to register with GS1 to obtain a company prefix. Visit
www.gs1us.org. On the left side of the page, under "Getting Started," select and follow the instructions on the links for both "I need a barcode" and "I need a company prefix."
Grower-shippers will need to have barcode printers and label-printing software, as well as have the PTI-compliant label format, case and pallet labels, automated traceability reports and, he adds, "the ability to adapt as your business grows and your needs change."
Baggett says that today, some companies are treating PTI labeling as "special orders." As more and more of the industry adopts this system, however, "we'll cross that threshold in which it's not cost-effective for you to run them as one-ups or try to do the labeling right before shipment," he says. "It will become part of your daily process for all products. And you may have some additional traceability requirements or capabilities that you want in your own company."
For a checklist on what you need to do to implement the Produce Traceability Initiative, visit Potatogrower.com, click the "Extras" tab and then click on the "PTI Implementation Checklist for Growers/Packers/Shippers" link. Also visit www.producetraceability.org for more information.