NEWARK, Del. — The Produce Marketing Association last week joined with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association to restate the plan for the Produce Traceability Initiative. The goal of the initiative has remained unchanged, but the groups have moved the voluntary deadlines for milestones four and five — which call for the case labeling of produce and the encoding of information on a barcode — to 2011, where they will coincide with milestone six, which calls for reading and storing information on inbound cases. “What is not changing is the commitment that our associations and the PTI have to the GS1 standards, the 2012 endpoint for implementation and the voluntary nature of the plan,” said Bryan Silbermann, president and chief executive officer of PMA, during a media conference call. The groups also announced that they will launch pilot programs to help the industry determine best practices. One of the key issues for retailers is how they will capture outbound data from a retail distribution center all the way to the store, noted Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh. To address this issue, the associations plan to do some pilot projects not only with retailers, but anyone who has concerns, whether they are individual commodity groups or regional associations. Stenzel emphasized that the associations want to make sure they are reaching out across the industry so that anybody has the opportunity to provide input regarding the process and to participate in the pilot programs. “Let's just figure out together how we're able to link all those internal traceability systems … to create that whole chain traceability from farm all the way to the individual store,” Stenzel said.