Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, co-chairs the PTI implementation and the PTI buyers working groups.
While most major retailers are working on adopting PTI, Treacy said up to 40% of the suppliers are using PTI.
“Considering there have been very few retailers and foodservice companies taking a hard line and demanding it, that’s a very good voluntary adoption rate,” he said.
“There are two ways to look at it. One, it will be a cost and a burden. The other is to consider it an opportunity. I see a lot of companies getting a lot more back than they’ve invested in it to be compliant from the supply side.”
Treacy said he thinks the number of suppliers adopting PTI will increase substantially after one of the major chains sets a firm date in requesting its suppliers’ implementation.
Dan Vache, United Fresh’s Redmond, Wash.-based vice president of supply chain management, said large retailers are working on implementing PTI.
“They’re getting closer to saying, ‘OK, we have these expectations. We will be ready on this date to require it from our suppliers’,” Vache said.
“They haven’t come out with any specific dates, but they’re working on it continuously.”
One snag, he said, involves retailers needing to work with their legal departments.
Traceability is necessary because the industry cannot test every piece of product that’s harvested from the fields, said Gary Fleming, vice president of strategic services for RedLine Solutions Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.
“The produce industry is similar to other fresh food sectors and has a very good road map in the way the PTI is to enable whole-chain traceability that will help the industry and the FDA,” Fleming said.
“Implementation, however, continues to be stalled by pending regulations from the FDA or minimal requirements by the leading retailers.”
Saying PTI costs too much, some companies dismiss it but are only betraying their lack of homework to see exactly how much it costs, Fleming said.
“The amazing thing is there is not one company I’ve talked to ... that says it’s not the right thing to do,” he said.
“If we don’t do it, we will have a broken system of traceability and nothing will be changed. No one has been able to successfully argue against PTI.”