NEWARK, Del. -- A new committee has been convened to examine ways the produce industry can create packaging products and systems that enhance food safety and security, provide more efficient distribution and still retain customer appeal at store level.
A major focus of the committee will be to examine emerging "smart" technologies that have the potential to enhance product traceability and other aspects of the produce business. Trends and best practices in packaging identification technology will be reviewed and evaluated for industrywide promotion.
The panel, which recently had its first meeting, was formed by the Produce Marketing Association here. According to organizers, other primary goals are to provide a forum in which participants can discuss consumer perceptions regarding packaging; and voluntary standards that enhance supply-chain efficiencies.
"Recent world and national events have created a renewed focus on food safety and product traceback," said Ron McCormick, committee vice chairman and vice president/divisional manager, Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark. "As a result, it has become increasingly important to have a way to trace packages from the point of consumer purchase back through the supply chain to where they originated."
In addition to the initiatives, the committee will also prepare a summary of governmental regulations that impact packaging decisions.
"New technologies hold the potential to influence packaging form and function," added Jim Vangelos, president and chief executive officer, Hays Container Services, Fresno, Calif., and committee chairman. "It's important that all segments be thoroughly studied in order to develop solutions and standards to benefit the supply chain."
The committee includes representatives from packaging, retail, transportation and grower/shipper operations, as well as an education consultant. Other retailers on the panel include Hugh Topper, director of produce, H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, and Roger Schroeder, vice president of produce, Stater Bros. Markets, Colton, Calif.