Wal-Mart sets PTI label deadline for suppliers - The Packer

Wal-Mart sets PTI label deadline for suppliers

06/04/2013 01:00:00 PM
Coral Beach

Wal-MartFresh produce suppliers who ship to Wal-Mart distribution centers must use case labels that comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative by Jan. 1, or their products will be rejected.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer sent a letter to suppliers May 29 outlining the deadline schedule. The letter describes the PTI requirement as part of Wal-Mart’s heightened focus on the quality of its fresh produce, which also includes a new money-back guarantee for consumers.

“These efforts are designed to create a transparency in the supply chain so our customers can be confident in the freshness of the produce,” according to the letter.

The requirement applies to products shipped only to distribution centers, not directly to individual stores.

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Inc. will be enforcing the deadline schedule 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” unless Wal-Mart has issued an exemption to the supplier.

“We will work with suppliers who are making a good faith effort towards standard case labels,” the Wal-Mart letter states.

Effective Jan. 1, produce received at distribution centers without PTI-compliant case labels “will be rejected as out of spec unless an active exception has been issued by the buyer prior to delivery,” according to the letter.

Leaders from PTI and other produce industry groups said the Wal-Mart requirement is good news for the industry at large. They said other retailers will probably follow suit.

“Other large retailers are working on this in some form or fashion,” said Ed Treacy, vice president for supply chain efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., and member of the PTI leadership council.

“I think it will make the most difference with mid-sized and smaller retailers, though. If there are any on the fence I’m sure this will give them a push.”

Dan Vache, vice president for supply chain management for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., agreed with Treacy’s assessment.

“This announcement will definitely move the PTI needle for the entire industry,” Vache said. “Regional retailers and wholesalers have been waiting for a national buy-side organization to move forward with the PTI to add weight to their requests for PTI labeled produce cases.”

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Ontario  |  June, 05, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Case labeling is a good start but unfortunately is also the end for product traceability. One product is removed from cases and dumped into bins with product from other packers, it is almost impossible to trace. I applaud wal-mart for its efforts, but they need to mandate "Item Level Traceability." This technology exists and has been available for years. Being able to print lot codes, dates and grower identification data directly on the PLU sticker is already being implemented by packers throughout the US and Canada.

USA  |  June, 05, 2013 at 10:52 AM

The only way for GS1 henchmans PMA, UF and WG to get this costly and useless PTI off the ground is forcing their retail members for force it down. In order to run the retailers check-out faster, everbody down to the grower has to pay for their convinience and money saving. FSMA doesn't require anything like this as it only helps Walmart and a few others.

Texas  |  June, 05, 2013 at 11:26 AM

PTI will only work when the individual product has a PLU PTI NUMBER STICKER on each piece fruit to protect the customer since there can be more than one grower produce inside a case of fruit anything less than " Item level Traceability "will be fruitless in an outbreak.

June, 06, 2013 at 06:22 AM

How do you feel this will "protect" someone?

Produce Guy    
Texas  |  June, 06, 2013 at 07:33 AM

Do the people who come up with these brilliant ideas work in the same produce industry as the rest of us?? Here comes another song and dance that (good)growers and suppliers will have to learn/master and pass FOR FREE to major retailers. I say "good" suppliers because they left just enough loopholes in their law for bad non-comliant suppliers to drive truckloads of cheap produce through them. I guess somebody has to continue to subsidize the retailer's price war on each other, right? I can't wait!!!

Prduce Guy    
Texas  |  June, 06, 2013 at 07:44 AM

What happened to my comment??

Texas  |  June, 06, 2013 at 07:48 AM

Oh yeah, and they want the grower and packer to pay for all this while asking them to bend over and give them cheapo prices. These people have no end. The real problem is we're teaching people to be voracious consumers rather than smart consumers. We need to teach people to only buy seasonal produce, whatever is available nearest you will be the freshest and safest. I don't care about a Southamerican or Oriental fruit, and if I do, I will have to pay a high price for it because only a few can bring it safely to my table. Please, let's rethink the whole business before we attempt to implement practices that only benefit those who create them.

Ontario  |  June, 06, 2013 at 09:32 AM

The cost to apply this "item-level trace-ability" solution is pennies compared to millions of dollars that could be saved by not banning all produce because we cannot identify where it came from, as in the recent case of the Florida tomatoes and other fresh produce disasters over the past few years.

CA  |  June, 06, 2013 at 01:22 PM

Put as many stickers and bar codes as you can on every box. It's the only way.

Produce Guy    
Texas  |  June, 07, 2013 at 08:22 AM

Again, the concept is great. Let's do things better! Who does not want safer and more sustainable produce?? The problem is the hipocracy behind it. All I hear is retail buyers comparing apples to oranges and asking why your comapny can not match the price of some company who is not following the rules. Four pounds of bananas for a buck or 1 pinapple for a buck or 10 peices of corn for a buck or 3 pounds of tomatoes for a buck is neither sustainable nor compatible with safer anything. My point is if we are going to come up with new laws: a)Make no exceptions as to who has to follow them and b)Retailers and consumers: Pay for them! A better way of life is not free

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