SAN ANTONIO – The Produce Marketing Association will launch a new tool on its website (www.pma.com) on June 17 to facilitate the transfer of brand-owner UPC numbers for packaged produce from suppliers to retailers.

The tool, called UPC Link, will enable suppliers to upload 12-digit UPC numbers containing company-specific/brand owner information, as well as product information, into a PMA-maintained database, from which retailers will be able to download the information.


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Manufacturers have been switching UPC numbers for packaged produce from “generic” codes that do not identify companies to brand-owner codes that do. In a survey of its membership PMA found that 60% of suppliers still use the generic UPC on packaged produce. However, “we’ve started to see it move” toward brand-owner codes, said Christina D’Allaco, manager of the science and technology for PMA, Newark, Del., during a presentation here Thursday at the GS1 Connect 2013 conference, sponsored by GS1 US, Lawrenceville, N.J.

The UPC Link tool, which will also handle generic codes, “will help with the transition from generic to brand-owner codes,” she said. PMA maintains a database of 12,000 generic UPCs for packaged produce.

Brand-owner codes for packaged produce, like UPC codes for CPG products, enable retailers to better track inventory and manage categories, while improving traceability and recall capabilities.

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The transition to brand-owner coding, for which there is no industry deadline, will likely be driven by retailer mandates, D’Allaco noted. PMA’s survey of food retailers indicated that 80% plan to transition to the brand-owner codes in the next one to three years. Retailers may have to make an adjustment in their POS systems to accommodate the brand-owner codes.

Supervalu, Minneapolis, does not mandate that suppliers adopt brand-owner UPCs for packaged produce, though “we support it,” said Greg Zwanziger, director of ecommerce business development.

PMA offers another online tool, DataBar Online, which allows suppliers to channel their GS1 DataBar information for loose produce to retailers, correlating it with PLU (price look-up information).

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