Wal-Mart prompts traceability compliance

06/28/2013 11:29:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

The recent announcement by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Inc. that the stores will begin rejecting produce from suppliers that do not comply with Produce Traceability Initiative guidelines by Jan. 1 has breathed new life into the traceability movement.

PTI was launched in October 2007, with the milestone for supplier compliance to be completed by September 2010. Additional milestones were set for the end of 2012.

Nearly six years after its beginning, PTI is beginning to pick up speed.

In a letter sent May 29, the company described the process it will take to enforce the deadline schedule for PTI compliance at U.S. stores.

The schedule includes a grace period.

Suppliers must begin using PTI-compliant labels by Nov. 1 or their products will be marked as received but “out of spec.”

Effective Jan. 1, produce received at distribution centers without PTI-compliant case labels will be rejected, according to the letter.

No longer waiting

Todd Baggett, chief executive officer of RedLine Solutions Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., says his company’s phones have been ringing constantly by companies ready to implement PTI systems.

“Last year seemed to be the year of waiting because all the early adopters had already adopted and retailers hadn’t yet signaled they were going to require PTI. We needed a big player to step up and implement to keep the ball moving,” he said.

Baggett said that most of the larger companies had already done preliminary investigations and had their PTI plans in order.

“Now is the time to make the investment and implement those plans,” he said.

Not everyone was waiting for an announcement like this, however.

Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer of FoodLink, Los Gatos, Calif., says he was already seeing increased interest in the program.

“Even before the Wal-Mart announcement a couple of weeks ago, we were seeing an uptick in produce suppliers getting serious about their PTI programs, moving from pilot and test projects to full blown deployments,” Brooks said.

15% ready

Baggett estimated as little as 15% of the overall market is prepared for the requirements Wal-Mart’s PTI announcement will enforce. However, that 15% may account for up to 50% of the total market volume since some larger companies were already compliant.

The rest of the 85% of produce supply companies will need to make decisions quickly in order to stay caught up.

To help educate and encourage companies that need information about transitioning their operations to PTI-compliant standards, RedLine Solutions offers a Web seminar from 11 a.m to 12 p.m. PDT on July 17.

The company has been offering similar free online informational sessions monthly, but Baggett thought it was time to help those who maybe haven’t been paying as much attention to PTI.

“We want to help them understand what they’ll need to do,” he said.

The main focus of the seminar will be to help spread the word about the difference between internal traceabilty and the PTI requirements to be demanded by Wal-Mart.

“We want to help people who might not know they need to do this. It will help them move from the systems they are already using to where they need to go,” Baggett said.

Those interested can register for the seminar at RedLine’s website.



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Ben    
USA  |  June, 28, 2013 at 06:23 PM

By repeating PTI is a traceback system, doesn't makes one. It's only to ring up the cash register faster in stores like Wal-Mart and a few others. To save money they force a system down that only makes sense to them and is paid by the supplier. It's not helpful for FSMA or any reliable traceback throughout the supply chain.

Ben    
USA  |  June, 28, 2013 at 06:23 PM

By repeating PTI is a traceback system, doesn't makes one. It's only to ring up the cash register faster in stores like Wal-Mart and a few others. To save money they force a system down that only makes sense to them and is paid by the supplier. It's not helpful for FSMA or any reliable traceback throughout the supply chain.

WebMinion    
Kansas City  |  July, 01, 2013 at 11:25 AM

(THE TEXT OF WALMART'S LETTER IS INCLUDED IN THE PERISHABLE PUNDIT BLOG POST - http://perishablepundit.com/index.php?date=06/06/2013 -)

Charlie    
California  |  July, 01, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Ben, you're correct that PTI is not a traceback system but you're way off the mark stating that it will speed up cash register transactions. PTI data is only on the master box and not on the product that is scanned at the register. That is what the PLU sticker is for. PTI is an attempt to have everyone's traceback system printed in a common format on the box so that in the event of a crisis, the traceback data can be managed in a more efficient manner. Basically, it's trying to get everyone's traceback box markings in the same language. It is far from perfect but it's better than what the industry is doing now.

Ben    
USA  |  July, 01, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Provided link doesn't work.This is the message: I’m Sorry! I could not find that Perishable Pundit!

    
July, 01, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Ben, That's OK - we had the link in the original story we posted in early June. Here's the link: http://www.producetraceability.org/documents/Wal-Mart_Case_Label_Standard_-_Supplier_Letter_WM_-_Sams_(5_28_2013).pdf. I'm also adding it into the story. Thanks for pointing out our oversight. Chris Koger News Editor The Packer.

Ben    
USA  |  July, 01, 2013 at 03:21 PM

I don't know when you have been shopping the last time. I see the GS1/PTI stickers on clamshells and individual fruits and vegetables that came out of the labeled case. The clerk on the checkout counter doesn't have to lookup the price, using the PLU number, so it speeds up the process of checkout. You may be able to explain how the case traceability works, when the GS1/PTI code is only on the RPC or that box that gets compacted immediately after it’s emptied. That explains why nothing can be traced back or traced forward in an a few hours in case of a recall. BTW one part of the code stands for a brand name and the other part for the product code (newer form of PLU number), and the packing sizes that's all. If you are tracing a lettuce back to the brand name, how many farmers delivered to this brand name but where did it come from, what were the conditions there, and who recorded the required sanitation logs? Don't tell me GS1/PTI has anything to do with a traceback system of the FSMA records. The only working food safety and records traceback system we have seen so far and we are going to implement is ScoringAg.com as this system also handles all FSMA requirements including HACCP from field to fork and still works for Wal-Mart and others needing the PTI.

Soilflavored    
Mexico  |  July, 05, 2013 at 09:25 AM

There is still a long way to go on PT, if the consumer is not educated traceability stops at the shipper, wholesaler, retailer levels; Very few individual fruits & veggies have individual traceability, value added has more share of that market; Technology for individual PLU to include a PTI human & non-human readable codes at an affordable price (read not overly huge PLU's) is not here yet available at affordable prices; You then have the issue of how to code your traceability data when a clamshell is scanned by the client/consumer, how much are you allowing them to know in that allowed time that it takes to scan? Consumers and the media need to be educated on how food safety reports can better help rathe than maim the industry. Right now the way that USDA/FDA treats a food borne illness is by "assumptions" and "probabilities". They have hampered many a commodity only to later determine that the first commodity that they along with news media decided to "air" on the local or national news channel had nothing what so ever to do with the food borne illness reported and nothing is done to correct initial mistakes which cost the industry & commodity specific millions of dollars. Educate the consumer, bring back the TV adds which used to explain in simple terms: "Don't forget to wash your fruits & veggies before consuming and your hands" Let's do it through cartoons if we must, but it needs to get done, going back to basics.

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