Obviously, not all suppliers moved with the first exhortation and the many that followed.
In coverage published in The Packer in April, Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association and co-chair of the PTI implementation and the PTI buyers working groups, estimated that about 40% of produce suppliers are using PTI. That, if my math is correct, leaves about 60% who aren’t 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,” Treacy was quoted saying. He said at the time that 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.
Setting a firm date translates to ”get off the d##& shed.”
Walmart has delivered the message. And having a big gun lead the way just may work.
Walmart’s letter said that the chain will work with suppliers who are making a “good faith effort” towards standard case labels by using the spec exemption process. Product that is not label compliant (after Nov. 1) will be received as out of spec unless an active exception has been issued by the buyer prior to delivery.
On Jan. 1 of next year, Walmart said that product that is out of compliance will be rejected as out of spec unless an active exception has been issued by the buyer prior to delivery.
Traceability solution providers are surely pleased with Walmart’s letter. Fresh produce suppliers who haven’t put in place PTI compliant labeling should be motivated to do so.
Still, there remains some confusion about what needs to be done by the non-compliant. One member of the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group asked
“What determines a PTI compliant label? I am seeking a answer based upon Walmart’s intent to accept only PTI compliant very shortly. If a master carton or container includes PTI on the outside and the consumer pack does not is it really traceable. Could someone clear this up for me.”
Gary Fleming, vice president of strategic services for RedLine Solutions Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., was ready with an answer to that question. Find what Gary’s answer was here.
Others question what the FDA will finally put forward about traceability in its food safety regulations, seeking assurances that any investments in PTI will not be in vain. Find comments on the docket here that consider the learnings from FDA’s pilot traceability projects.