Grant said he doesn’t believe the food safety law requirements will have much of an effect on what PTI procedures companies have adopted.
“I think companies just need to move forward with it,” he said.
Proctor said Publix has been an early adopter of PTI, leading suppliers to follow the milestones. On the other hand, other buyers have not asked suppliers to provide PTI-compliant case labels, and that has caused some produce companies to put off implementation until the buyers tell them to move.
“They are not pushing hard with their suppliers now,” Grant said.
While there has been the occasional harsh letter from retailers to suppliers demanding compliance, Grant said that more retailers are working with their suppliers on PTI, sometimes in the form of traceability pilot projects.
On the buy side, some retailers say they want to make progress internally before they tell their suppliers, Proctor said.
Michael Agostini, senior director of produce merchandising for Wal Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark., said in an e-mail that most all produce companies and buyers understand the importance of PTI and continue to work toward its goals. “This is success as long as we don’t let up.”
Garry Bergstrom, business development director produce/floral for Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix and a PTI leadership council member, said the retailer has started to scan inbound cases with Global Trade Item Number labels.
While Publix has not demanded that suppliers use PTI case labels, Bergstrom said many are providing-PTI compliant labels. Others are waiting for larger produce buyers to demand it.
He compares the PTI adoption to the Price Look-Up discussion in the late 1970s, when scanning of Universal Product Codes began and PLU labels were first applied to some fresh produce.
“There was quite a concern we were going to add all this cost to the products by putting UPC labels on products and putting PLU labels on apples, pears, nectarines, but once the industry realized it was a better way of doing business, more buyers demanded it,” Bergstrom said.