FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 22, 2010

PTI STEERING COMMITTEE REAFFIRMS MISSION, PLANS MORE ROBUST ENGAGEMENT WITH INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS

Dallas, Texas, USA - More than 50 members of the Produce Traceability Initiative Steering Committee met Feb. 19 to engage in a frank and open discussion about the initiative‚Äôs status and direction. The committee members unanimously reaffirmed their commitment to the two-year-old initiative’s goal to drive whole-chain traceability through common data standards, supported a more robust engagement and dialogue with all industry sectors, and recommended a closer partnership with GS1 US to bring expertise and operational support to the initiative.

“The intent of our meeting was to measure PTI progress, identify and prioritize issues facing us, and discuss plans to address these,” said Cathy Green, steering committee chair and president of the Food Lion family of companies. “We focused strongly on feedback received from industry surveys, from other committee members, and from our own experience over the past 18 months. As the leader of a supermarket company committed to PTI, I found it very gratifying to hear for myself that other committee members are also moving forward to meet the milestones established in the PTI plan.”

The day-long meeting included discussion of surveys conducted to benchmark progress as well as barriers to PTI implementation. A broad cross-section of industry leaders representing many facets of the supply chain attended. The PTI is currently administered by Produce Marketing Association (PMA), United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA).

“Several PTI working groups have made a lot of progress in driving implementation forward since the steering committee last met in August 2008. At the same time, the business environment has changed and one of the key lessons we’ve learned is that we need the right model of leadership engagement and structure in place to drive the initiative forward,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA president & CEO. “This must include more senior executive engagement, as well as better ongoing communication and educational outreach aimed at all industry sectors.”

“With the hard work of implementing these traceability steps well underway, the complexity and cost of this effort is proving challenging to many companies,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president & CEO. “The steering committee candidly discussed the need for greater stakeholder involvement across the industry, a clearer understanding of the most cost-effective strategies for addressing each milestone, and a focus on ensuring that PTI results in the ability to more narrowly define future recalls and produces a real ROI for the industry.”

CPMA also noted its continued support. “CPMA remains committed to supporting the PTI for our members who are active in and ship to the United States or to any organization implementing PTI,” said Jane Proctor, vice president of policy & issues management, who confirmed that work is ongoing to ensure that PTI’s best practices are aligned with GS1 standards.

During the meeting, GS1 US presented a summary of its new Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative. “The foodservice industry initiative emulates the PTI’s milestones - while the PTI may be able to emulate the foodservice initiative’s governance structure,” said Bob Carpenter, president & CEO of GS1 US.

Green noted that GS1 US has agreed to become an integral partner in the initiative. A strategic implementation plan will be developed drawing on the considerable expertise of GS1 US in working with industries to implement broader use of data standards. The plan will include opportunities for involvement by higher-level executives and interested stakeholders. It will also provide increased education and communication about the initiative as well as greater assistance with implementation of data standards.

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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.