FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 9, 2011

PTI Leadership Council determines unique GTINs are a requirement for traceability

A proposal for an alternate path for implementing Global Trade Item Numbers® (GTINs®), a key component of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), has not garnered wide enough support from the PTI Leadership Council to be adopted. The council also reinforced the need for trading partners to discuss the status of milestones and timelines as soon as possible.

The alternate proposal for implementing GTINs was initiated after members of several PTI working groups raised the difficulties that some industry members are experiencing in implementing case configuration-unique GTINs (“unique GTINs”) within their companies. Tracking of the GTIN, in combination with a lot number or pack/harvest date, as each case moves through the supply chain provides the chain-wide, electronic traceability sought by the PTI.

The Master Data Working Group proposed the short-term use of less detailed, commodity- or variety-general GTINs (“base” GTINs) to allow those companies more time to implement unique GTINs. That group then vetted the proposal to the Implementation Working Group, which was unable to reach consensus on the proposal. Due to the impasse, the proposal was presented to the Leadership Council for review and vote.

More than 80 PTI stakeholders, including Leadership Council members and their companies’ information technology staff, participated in a special conference call on Feb. 24 to learn about and publicly discuss the base GTIN proposal in detail. Leadership Council members then participated in a confidential online voting process, with an outcome of 7 members voting for the proposal and 21 against it. All supply chain segments of the council voted against the base GTIN measure: growers/shippers voted 5 yes, 8 no; wholesalers/brokers voted 1 yes, 2 no; retail members voted 0 yes, 7 no; and foodservice distributors/operators voted 1 yes, 4 no. (Three Leadership Council members did not vote.)

It was clear from council members’ comments even interim use of base GTINs would not be a practical solution for the industry overall. For example, many receivers reported that their data management systems require unique GTINs to map to specific stock-keeping units (SKUs), and could not handle both base and unique GTINs concurrently.

“It was really impactful for me to hear from my buyers that their systems simply won’t allow one base-level GTIN to be associated with several SKUs,” said Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group, a member of the Leadership Council and the PTI Executive Committee. “It became evident to me this interim solution just wasn’t workable, and that our time is better spent working to implement unique GTINs as per the existing PTI guidelines.”

“We are committed to being flexible and sensitive to industry members’ needs, and this proposal was developed with a lot of thought about ways we could keep the initiative moving forward,” said Leadership Council Chair Cathy Green Burns, CEO of the Food Lion Family of banners. “With the goal milestones and timelines unchanged, our attention will return to how we can best help members overcome barriers to implementation.”

Green Burns urged sellers and buyers alike to contact their supply chain partners as soon as possible to discuss implementation status. She also noted that the Leadership Council and working groups would consider how to assist companies with GTIN implementation in future meetings.

Green Burns also invited industry members to volunteer to participate in pilot projects, now getting underway, which she expects will provide valuable and much-anticipated information on PTI implementation costs, labor needs, benefits and time requirements. U.S. and non-U.S. companies from across the supply chain are invited to participate. For more information or to volunteer to participate in a pilot project, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy by email at etreacy@pma.com, telephone +1-302-738-7100 ext. 3018.

Industry members are encouraged to visit the official PTI website at www.producetraceability.org for assistance and staff contact information.

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About the Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is a not-for-profit organization representing over 770 Canadian and International member companies that are active in the marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada from the farm gate to the dinner plate. CPMA members represent all segments of the fresh produce industry. CPMA's vision is to enable and lead the produce industry by enhancing the market and facilitating trade of fresh fruits and vegetables for its members.  For more information about CPMA, please visit www.cpma.ca. 

About GS1 US
GS1 US, a member of GS1, is an information standards organization that brings industry communities together to solve supply-chain problems through the adoption and implementation of GS1 standards. More than 200,000 businesses in 25 industries rely on GS1 US for trading-partner collaboration and for maximizing the cost effectiveness, speed, visibility, security and sustainability of their business processes. They achieve these benefits through solutions based on GS1 global unique numbering and identification systems, bar codes, Electronic Product Code-based RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC). www.GS1US.org

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)
Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing business solutions that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

About United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh)
Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Western Regional office in Salinas, Calif., United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses. For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org.