November/December 2011

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is pleased to bring you the November/December edition of PTI FYI, in which we report to you on these and other developments of critical interest to PTI stakeholders.

A note about updating best practices: As PTI volunteer leader Todd Baggett notes in this edition of PTI FYI, our evolving knowledge – as well as industry’s emerging needs – will occasionally require changes to PTI best practices. Rest assured that we watch out for our members’ interests when these changes are discussed. For example, our updated GTIN assignment best practices can actually help minimize the number of GTINs needed, thereby potentially reducing direct and indirect costs to your company.

FDA and IFT coordination: The PTI administering organizations work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on an ongoing basis, often with the involvement of member companies such as yours. For example, at FDA’s request the PTI Implementation Working Group is now developing a standardized template for providing traceback information to the agency. This template will clarify what information the agency will immediately expect from the industry in the event of a traceback investigation; we will provide it to you when it has been completed. PTI will also provide expertise to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) as that group conducts a produce traceability pilot project for FDA. IFT recently announced that tomatoes had been chosen as the produce item for this pilot, which is mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

PTI FYI will return in January 2012 with more PTI news and information.

- Ron Lemaire, CPMA President
- Gay Whitney, GS1 US Senior Vice President of Industry Engagement
- Bryan Silbermann, PMA President & CEO
- Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President & CEO

IN THIS UPDATE:
News: Leadership Council meets to check initiative’s progress
Resources: Revised best practices help to standardize, minimize GTIN assignment
Resources: Case labeling best practices updated to include guidance on RPCs
News: PTI pilot projects begin to yield answers
News: Task force to provide guidance on carton-direct printing
About: Meet the Technology Working Group
About: Meet the Master Data Working Group
Resources: New flyer answers questions, and aligns efforts on PTI
Resources: Got PTI questions? New webcasts offer answers

 

News: Leadership Council meets to check initiative’s progress

From: Jon Mellor, GS1 US external affairs director and co-chair, PTI Communications Working Group

The PTI Leadership Council met Oct. 12 to continue guiding the initiative’s progress and the work of PTI working groups. Council members received the first reports from several PTI-sponsored pilot projects now underway. Collaborating on those projects are trading partners hailing from across the supply chain, including growers, retailers and solution providers (see related story).

The council also heard updates on related, though broader, foodservice initiatives underway in the United States and Canada; GS1 US representatives noted that they are facilitating efforts to align requirements across all fresh food sectors, including produce. Chairpersons of the volunteer-led PTI working groups also reported to the Leadership Council on their work, including new updates to best practices and new industry resources (see related stories, below).

In their closing comments to Leadership Council members, Chair Cathy Green Burns of the Food Lion family of banners and Co-Chair Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group stressed the need to document and share what we learn from PTI pilot projects and resulting best practices with industry as soon as possible. They emphasized the need to better educate and inform industry through PTI FYI and webinars/webcasts. They also encouraged working groups to keep seeking implementation efficiencies and cost savings, and to ensure that PTI is aligned with other domestic and global initiatives across the fresh food sector.

The October meeting was the group’s second face-to-face meeting in 2011; the council stays actively involved through bimonthly conference calls. Its member companies hail from across the supply chain, including produce sellers and buyers. For more information about the Leadership Council or its work, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy, United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, CPMA’s Jane Proctor or Angela Fernandez at GS1 US.

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Resources: Revised best practices help to standardize, minimize GTIN assignment

from: Doug Grant, senior vice president and COO of The Oppenheimer Group, and co-chair, PTI Leadership Council

We are pleased to announce the best practices for assigning Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) have been updated to better address industry needs. These best practices help industry members implement Milestone 2 (“Assign GTIN numbers”). The revised best practices seek to minimize the quantity of GTINs needed, and operational delays when transitioning to a different pack label. This revision also standardizes product descriptions, reduces marketplace confusion and implements logistics industry standards.

Specifically, these best practices now advise on how to standardize product descriptions so that GTINs are assigned only for unique pack combinations, and on how to assign GTINs by defining them at a summary level. Other updates include:

  • Addition of two new attributes to use in assigning GTINs: (1) dimensional changes that are +/- 20 percent of the original dimensions, which requires assigning a new GTIN; and (2) grade, added as a new attribute.
  • Addition of a table showing how changes to attributes would generate a new GTIN.
  • Addition of three new appendices: (1) common industry scenarios and guidance on when a new GTIN is required; (2) methods for assigning GTINs for multiple levels of packaging, designed for those companies using GTINs beyond the case level today; and (3) answers to frequently asked questions regarding GTIN assignment.

Our company, The Oppenheimer Group, deployed some of these methods to minimize the number of GTINs we used in our operation and found them beneficial. We then shared them with the PTI Implementation and Master Data Working Groups, which in turn updated PTI’s best practices. Within the next few days, you can access this updated best practice document on the PTI website’s Resources & Tools page. For more information about GTIN assignment best practices, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy, United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, CPMA’s Jane Proctor or Angela Fernandez at GS1 US.

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Resources: Case labeling best practices updated to include guidance on RPCs

from: Todd Baggett, CEO of RedLine Solutions and industry co-chair, PTI Technology Working Group

The PTI Technology Working Group has just updated the best practices for designing PTI-compliant case labels so that they now include a section on reusable plastic container (RPC) labels. The case labeling best practice update is a result of efforts of the PTI Technology Working Group to respond to industry requests for technical guidance in developing standardized labels for RPCs. It also includes updates to the GS1-128 barcode application identifier (AI) placement, barcode size requirements based on scanning method, and barcode print quality standards.

PTI best practices will continue to evolve over time in response to newly developed processes and knowledge. This update builds on our prior work and incorporates information gathered from our discussions with leading retailers, foodservice providers, RPC manufacturers and grower/shippers.

This best practice update helps companies understand how to implement PTI Milestone 4 ("Show human-readable information on cases") and Milestone 5 ("Encode information in a barcode"). Within the next few days, you can view the updated labeling best practices here. If you need assistance on case/RPC labeling, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy, United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, CPMA’s Jane Proctor or Angela Fernandez at GS1 US.

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News: PTI pilot projects begin to yield answers

from: Steve Roosdahl, director of supply chain management, The Oppenheimer Group and Implementation Working Group co-chair

With the PTI pilot project program well underway, the Implementation Working Group (IWG) is now turning our attention to getting project findings into the industry's hands as quickly as possible. Initial reports from pilot participants indicate that some elements of implementation proved easier than companies had anticipated, while other aspects were more difficult than first considered.

While all companies are working toward implementing the same standards, recognizing that implementation must be consistent across the industry, the pilots have illustrated the myriad variables that can affect the process. The take-away: Companies should involve their entire organization in PTI implementation, consider how it will affect each operational aspect, and collaborate internally to optimize results.

Key pilot project findings to date include:

  • Direct printing onto corrugated cartons does work and saves money, but requires the right conditions, testing with trading partners, constant monitoring and significant maintenance. A new Technology Working Group task force is gathering information for printing directly on corrugate (see related story); your feedback about this process is welcome and encouraged.
  • PTI case labels must use the GS1-128 barcode. Many cases are currently being printed with the similar “Code 128,” which is not correct. The GS1-128 barcode does not include brackets for the Application Identifier. The results of a scanned barcode should be 0119415835713069102184159. The following results would be invalid: (01) 19415835713069(10) 2184159.
  • Use of Advance Ship Notices (ASN) instead of hybrid pallet labels achieves the same goal for receivers. Both capture the necessary GTIN and batch/lot information about the pallet.
  • Some retailers are pilot testing traceability for meat and other fresh food products; the results of these pilots could be valuable when viewed alongside PTI.
  • One of the challenges with “print and apply” labels is their tendency to detach as the cases pass through the supply chain due to cooler humidity, weather, etc. Care should be taken to ensure they are applied correctly at the outset.
  • Mock recalls – and in some cases actual recalls – have demonstrate the initiative’s benefits of quicker, more accurate recalls.

The PTI pilot project program aims to answer implementation questions, define costs and reduce barriers across the supply chain. To ensure the program is as applicable to industry as possible, a broad range of buyers and sellers representing an equally broad range of commodities are participating in PTI pilot projects.

PTI representatives are working closely to share our pilot project results and resulting traceability best practices, and to generally align PTI efforts, with the Institute of Food Technologists. That organization is overseeing the traceability pilot projects mandated of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the Food Safety Modernization Act.

More answers and information from the PTI pilot programs will be coming soon, to be announced here in PTI FYI and on the PTI website. The website will also be expanded in the future to include more pilot program information; soon you’ll be able to access findings, participating companies, presentations and other valuable resources.

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News: Task force to provide guidance on carton-direct printing

from: James Chronowski, director of global standards, GS1 US

Are you interested in printing barcodes directly onto produce cartons rather than printing on a separate label? At the request of the produce industry, a new PTI task group was recently formed to review the GS1 standards for direct-print technologies in relation to application of PTI-compliant GS1-128 barcodes. This group – composed of grower/shippers, receivers, along with solution providers in the printing, standards and corrugated industry – has already begun meeting to study the topic.

Once the group has completed its review and analysis, PTI will release guidance to provide more education on the print quality standards for direct printing, and the best approach for its application. To share your input or to get additional information on the Direct Print Task Force Group, contact United Fresh’s Dan Vaché, or James Chronowski of GS1 US.

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About: Meet the Technology Working Group

from: Andy Kennedy, president of FoodLogiQ and industry co-chair, PTI Technology Working Group

The PTI Technology Working Group (TWG) brings produce industry technology providers together to devise strategies and collaborative processes to facilitate industry’s voluntary adoption of the PTI.  Our charter is to help the produce industry achieve the initiative’s stated goal of chainwide implementation by the end of 2012 by communicating best practices, case studies and success stories that address industry's implementation questions and needs.

Our group focuses on applying and implementing GS1 standards-based solutions in retail, foodservice outlets, distribution/wholesale, terminal market, packer/shipper, grower and other user environments. We provide a forum for industry members to collaborate with technology providers to drive successful implementations. We also educate technology providers who offer related products and services to the produce industry.

The TWG considers the needs of all sizes of companies in our industry, from small growers/packers/shippers to mid-size and larger organizations, as we develop and provide technology solutions to aid PTI implementation. As technology experts who work within the industry, we’re able to lend real-world experience to help trading partners assess their technology needs.

Joining me as co-chairs of this working group are Todd Baggett, CEO of RedLine Solutions, and Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management at United Fresh Produce Association. The TWG’s membership includes individuals from across the supply chain; view a list of current TWG members. For more information about the PTI’s leadership structure and currently available implementation tools, visit the PTI website’s Resources & Tools page. To volunteer to join the PTI Technology Working Group, contact United Fresh’s Dan Vaché.

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About: Meet the Master Data Working Group

from: Tom Casas, vice president of information technology for Tanimura & Antle and industry co-chair, PTI Master Data Working Group

The Master Data Working Group (MDWG) is charged with addressing industry issues regarding identifying product attributes and communicating that data between trading partners. Our group is tasked with determining the master data elements needed to assist with an item’s traceability. (These elements are some but not all of the data elements needed to conduct business; other industry groups are working to define a full set of master data elements for use in the supply chain to meet additional business needs, such as enabling e-commerce.)

The MDWG works to identify best practices for “data exchange,” to guide industry on how to exchange and properly store product data to support chainwide electronic traceability. We also develop best practices for data synchronization using the PTI product attributes spreadsheet template. In addition, we work to address how to communicate product substitutions, and develop related guidance.

I am honored to co-chair this group alongside Scott Brown, director of global standards at GS1 US. The MDWG’s membership includes individuals from across the supply chain who all bring real-world knowledge to the job. View a list of current MDWG members. To volunteer to join the PTI Master Data Working Group, contact Scott Brown of GS1 US.

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Resources: New flyer answers questions, and aligns efforts on PTI

from: admin

Do you need a quick overview of the PTI to share with others? Check out the new “About the PTI” flyer from the PTI Communications Working Group. This resource will help you align your PTI implementation efforts with colleagues and trading partners. It describes the PTI’s objectives and milestones, the benefits that PTI implementation can bring for trading partners, and why now is the time to get involved. The high-quality PDF format enables you to share the flyer electronically or in print. Download the flyer from the PTI website’s Resources & Tools page.

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Resources: Got PTI questions? New webcasts offer answers

from: admin

What are the best practices for achieving PTI-compliant traceability in my part of the supply chain? Who are the leaders in produce traceability? How do I keep pace? The PTI is answering these and many other questions in a new series of free educational webcasts. Six sessions are available, targeting various links in the fresh produce supply chain from grower to retailer and foodservice. Speakers include early PTI adopters so that you can learn from your peers. These webcasts are recordings of webinars conducted by the PTI in September and October of this year. Recordings include Q&A sessions where attendees posed a range of questions to speakers. View all of PTI’s new webcasts, and other PTI education events, on the PTI website’s Events page. Also, watch for new PTI webinars coming soon.

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