WASHINGTON — The Produce Traceability Initiative Steering Committee has created a new online survey to offer companies across the supply chain an opportunity to provide feedback on the initiative.
The survey, which can be accessed at www.producetraceability.org, is being conducted by Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, and will help the PTI Steering Committee and administering associations assess PTI adoption to date and identify additional support needs.
“We passed the first anniversary of the formation of the Produce Traceability Initiative and we thought it was time to benchmark the status of the industry as far as progress with the milestones for the PTI,” said Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management at United Fresh.
“And in conjunction with that, we wanted to have the markets and the participants identify any issues that they see with the PTI that would help us identify areas of perhaps additional education for the trade to gain the whole chain traceability, so we're going to get some feedback on that.”
Vache added that the survey will also help gauge industry participation in the PTI. That's been difficult to do because, while the first milestone is for companies to get their GTIN prefix, some companies already had that prior to the PTI.
The last milestone passed was Sept. 30, which was starting to exchange, for synchronization purposes, the GTIN and corresponding data between trading partners, Vache told SN. The next milestone of the seven-step timeline — part two of step three — is the placement of GTIN and lot numbers on case labels by the third quarter of 2010.
Participation in the survey is anonymous and only aggregated data will be reported. The deadline for completing the survey is Jan. 4, 2010. Results from the survey will be reported to the PTI Steering Committee and made publicly available via the PTI website within the first quarter of 2010.
“Achieving standardized, whole-chain traceability is an important goal for the produce industry and the PTI provides a road map for reaching that goal in the most efficient way possible,” Bob Whitaker, chief science office at PMA, said in a release.
“The survey will provide valuable feedback on the industry's educational and informational needs, and issues that may be impacting implementation.”
Vache stressed that meeting the PTI milestones is not easy.
“You look on the surface and it seems like it should be easy, but there are a lot of processes and a lot of investments that are going to be made on the side of the businesses from the supply side all the way through to the receiving side, whether it's a retailer or a foodservice distributor or wholesale,” Vache told SN.
“We just want to make sure that we have everything in place to make sure that the consumer has the highest level of confidence in their fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain. That's the ultimate goal.”