After food safety concerns topped the list of fresh produce industry news stories for 2007 and the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak incorrectly linked to tomatoes ranked as the No. 1 story of 2008, the produce industry should have seen this one coming.
Traceability not only ranked as the No. 2 most important story of 2008 but checked into the 2009 countdown’s No. 3 spot as the Produce Traceability Initiative took off.
The PTI Action Plan, released in 2008, includes a series of seven traceability implementation deadlines, with the final one to be implemented in 2012.
Numerous companies used 2009 to detail plans on innovative traceability solutions geared to help fresh produce companies in 2010 and beyond.
For instance, KPG Solutions Inc., Longwood, Fla., said it plans to offer an open-source, item-level traceability platform by early 2010.
That would mean consumers would be able to trace the produce they buy at the grocery store back to the grower-shipper, and the supply and buyer community can implement it for free, said KPG chairman and chief executive officer Angela Paymard.
Grower-shippers in California’s Salinas Valley test-drove traceability programs offered by RedLine Solutions, Santa Clara, Calif., to provide PTI compliance for field-packed product.
The tests allowed the grower-shippers involved to devise budgets to implement PTI and also set timelines for implementation of the initiative.
In October, Redwood City, Calif.-based YottaMark Inc. announced plans to help shippers become compliant with PTI by providing an essential tool.
The company made its HarvestMark Global Trade Item Number Assignment Tool available to growers and shippers at no cost.
HarvestMark’s iPhone application that allows consumers to trace their products using iPhones also is ready to go.
Many traceability companies used 2009 to push item-level traceability solutions to fresh produce companies looking to take the lead in an environment filled with case-level solutions, although produce industry pundits debated whether item-level solutions were any more valuable to them than those of case level.
Debate on the PTI timeline made news in fall 2009 as the produce industry chose it as the best option to comply with federal law.
At an Oct. 2 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit workshop, Gary Fleming, then-vice president of industry technology and standards for the Newark, Del.-based PMA, said each level of the supply chain was considered in the PTI, a joint program of PMA, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.