10:012 a.m. Karst: I know you were recently named to the new Produce Traceability Initiative leadership council. What have been your initial impressions about that group and how do you think the industry is dealing with PTI implementation?
10:12 a.m. Danner: The big struggle we have right now is getting to the perception that it is not an association mandated deal, but it is our — the industry’s — initiative. I think a lot of work needs to be done to change that perception. When I talk to people now, they say, “Oh yeah, it is something PMA or United is trying to push down our throats.”
But it is not. The struggle we have is that anytime a company looks at an investment, the first words out of their mouth are “What is the return on investment?” For PTI, you cannot say that you going to invest X and get it back in Y.
What is the ROI? Hopefully safer food, you won’t have the massive recalls, hopefully you won’t have the kneejerk reaction where say (a certain lot of) cilantro is bad and suddenly you don’t want cilantro from anybody. The long term goal of this is that if there is a problem, you hit those lots, you get them out of the system, you destroy them and we move on. Let’s not hurt other suppliers and let’s keep the confidence level of the consumer.
That’s my struggle is try to educate why we are going forward with this and why we need to do it. I don’t think that is the norm right now in the wholesale/distributor sector. You talk to a lot of people on the terminal markets and not a lot of them are going full force on this.
10:14 a.m. Karst: As time goes by, what is your sense of what is going to happen with PTI?
10:15 a.m. Danner: I think it is going to happen, I really do. It is very costly to institute. We need to somehow address those costs because everyone is asking for more, more, more, more and no one wants to pay for it. It is the same thing as a person who walks in and wants a Lexus for a VW price tag. We understand everybody wants it, but is everybody willing to pay the 10 to 20 cents per carton it will probably take? There are a lot of big people there on that PTI council and trust me there have been discussions down that road. I was very, very pleased with our first leadership meeting at PMA. No one held back. There were no bad questions, no bad answers, there was no bad anything. There was a lot nice free speaking and openness and I think we have a helluva leader (Cathy Green of Food Lion) in helping us with that. We need to know what the issues are, and if we don’t’ know what they are we can’t address them.