Before we get to the question of retail compliance, what is the grower/shipper compliance with the Produce Traceability Initiative?
I asked that question of the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group recently, and I would like readers to weigh in. Here is the question:
In limited voting so far, the answer "10% to 19%" has received 50% of the vote, with "20% to 29%" at 33% and "40% or higher" at 16%.
It is interesting to note that on the PTI Web site, there are several letters from retailers to their suppliers about PTI compliance and follow-through.
The most recent example is from Delhaize America's Jim Corby and Terri Miller.
From the letter:
August 13, 2012
Dear Valued Supplier,
We at Delhaize America support the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Action Plan and have followed the individual timelines and milestones part of this plan. We ARE currently reading the hybrid pallet labels and GTIN case labels in our Distribution Center located in Salisbury, North Carolina. It is our EXPECTATION that all of our suppliers be compliant with milestones 1 to 5 in order to facilitate Delhaize America achieving milestone #6 by September 30, 2012, which is stated as:
MILESTONE #6: Read and store information on INBOUND cases
Each subsequent handler of the CASE must have the systems and capability to read and store the GTIN and Lot # from each case of produce received. (See Best Practices on Pallet Labeling at www.producetraceability.org)
To be clear in our expectation, you must provide the following:
- All cases and cartons shipped to the Delhaize America Salisbury, North Carolina Distribution Center must have a PTI compliant case label or direct print equivalent.
- All pallets shipped to the Delhaize America Salisbury, North Carolina Distribution Center must have a PTI compliant hybrid pallet label.
- The GTIN number for each item that you deliver to the Salisbury Distribution Center. Specifically, we will provide a spreadsheet of your items with our item number. You will confirm and/or update the spreadsheet with your GTIN number.
- Certification that each the GTIN barcodes are accurate
- An account of whether you are transacting with us via Autofax or EDI. If, EDI, you must provide which EDI documents are used.
All PTI communications must be sent directly to Teri Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please understand that our expectation and support of PTI is serious, and it is our desire that your organization shares our views of PTI. We count on your support for moving this program forward.
Jim Corby, Delhaize America Vice President of Produce Category Management
Teri Miller, Delhaize America Produce Category Manager
TK: Locking the caps key for the word "EXPECTATION" is a signal that at least one retailer means to hold suppliers to the PTI milestone time line. It is likely that Delhaize is the exception rather than the rule, which is one reason that grower-shipper PTI compliance is believed to be in the 10% to 19% range rather than "over 40%."
The long delay in any word from the FDA on their traceability "expectations"' isn't helping PTI compliance either. And of course, retailers will find it no easy task to implement PTI themselves; few have taken all the steps necessary for PTI compliance.
In the category of "no good deed goes unpunished," Mexican authorities apparently rejected some shipments of California stone fruit because of the presence of the PTI label. While the issue has apparently been addressed and resolved in recent weeks, thousands of cartons of fruit were turned away earlier this summer because Mexico had some objection to the PTI label.
Darned if you do and darned if you don't, to put a softer point to it.