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    Where can I get help to improve my traceability capability?

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

    Hi, this is PMA PR Director Julia Stewart. In the recording that follows, Gary Fleming mentions that the Produce Traceability Initiative will track three pieces of information about each case of produce through the supply chain. After this recording was made, the PTI amended its plans, and decided that only two pieces of information were needed: the GTIN, and a lot number. As you listen to this, keep that in mind. You can find more information at www.producetraceability.org.

    Hello, this is Kathy Means with Produce Marketing Association, and welcome back to PMA’s audio series, “Ask Dr. Bob Whitaker.” Joining me again today is PMA Vice President for Technology and Standards, Gary Fleming. This is the third of a three-part series being recorded with Gary about the Produce Traceability Initiative and its work to bring chain-wide, electronic traceability to the produce industry. Gary, thank you for joining us again.

    Last time we talked about the initiative’s plan for making chain-wide, electronic traceability a reality within our industry by 2012. To get to that reality, though, our industry members are going to need some help. What kind of assistance do we have for them?

    Gary Fleming:

    We will have lots of help for them, no worries.
    The first critical step is to read the Industry Action Plan from the Produce Traceability Initiative. It defines the steps needed to get the industry to chain-wide electronic traceability, and the timetable for getting those steps completed.The steps are very straightforward and are presented in the order in which they should be implemented.

    You’ll recall from the first two parts of these series that the PTI is calling for the inclusion of two pieces of information on every case of produce, to trace that case through the supply chain: a Global Trade Identification Number, or GTIN and the lot number. These two milestones called for in that action plan are to get a company prefix from the GS1 organization and then to assign GTIN numbers to your different case configurations. So, the second step I recommend would be to read the GTIN Assignment Strategy, found on all three of the sponsoring trade associations’ Web sites. This document will assist companies in creating their 14-digit GTINs for their case configurations. Although this strategy is simply a guiding tool, it will help ensure consistency in GTIN assignments from company to company, and will also help minimize the amount of numbers buyers and sellers will have to manage.

    Third, it would be helpful for companies to read the document entitled “Fresh Produce Traceability: A Guide to Implementation”, which was the result of a traceability pilot project we did in 2006. This guide will give companies some further detail about the GTIN and its associated barcodes. It will also help with subsequent pieces of data that need to be referenced for efficient traceback, such as shipping and receiving information, that is expected to be stored, but not shown, on each and every case of produce. This document is also free of charge and found on both PMA and CPMA’s Web sites.

    Fourth, be on the lookout for educational sessions at PMA’s Fresh Summit and other trade shows from both United Fresh and CPMA to help spread the word. We will also be jointly creating numerous Webinars and additional recordings, such as this one, to help industry members become educated and informed on this important topic.

    Fifth, we are creating best practices for both case labeling and pallet labeling, as well as best practices for communicating this information between trading partners, in order to assist industry members on (1) ensuring consistency on the information shown on cases and pallets (2) to help minimize the amount of labels needed for cases and pallets and (3) to help expedite retrieving information off of each and every case on a pallet. This last point helps alleviate the concern over the amount of time and labor that would be needed to read each and every case that comes off of a truck. Not to worry folks, the best practices will offer multiple solutions to address this.

    Lastly, you have myself and my peers at the other trade associations – Jane Proctor from CPMA. and Dr. David Gombas from United Fresh – to answer any questions our listeners may still have.

    Kathy:

    Thank you, Gary, for explaining what we’re doing to help industry members achieve their part of this new vision for traceability. I’m sure our listeners are glad to know their associations are working together to bring about workable, efficient solutions to this industry challenge.

    Our listeners can find out more about PMA’s and the Produce Traceability Initiative’s work by visiting PMA’s Web site at www.pma.com. Go to the “Member Resources” section, then to Technology and Standards, then to Traceability. (For those of you reading this transcript, the link is: http://www.pma.com/cig/tech/traceability.cfm.)

    Please join us again next time, when we’ll take on a new topic. Until then, ‘ bye for now.

     
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