Our Newsletter:
Traceability Insider

August 2014
How Digitization is About to Change the Rules of Your Business

June 2014
Food Waste, We are Fed Up, and a Gladson Case Study

May 2014
Ag Tech and the Power of Catchy Criticism

March 2014
Labels are Soooo 1990, “Thorny” food labeling law

January 2014
Oxymoronic Grocery Predictions and Big Data for the Produce Industry

December 2013
The Gift of Growing – Helping Kids Get Their Hands Dirty!

November 2013
Produce Brand Strategy, Visibility and Transparency

September 2013
A "Lean" Supply Chain, Knowing your Shopper

April 2013
Food Waste, The Rolling Stones, Raley's, and Tanimura & Antle

March 2013
First Look! FDA Releases IFT Traceability Report and Lessons from Europe's Horsemeat Crisis Every Fresh Food Brand Should Learn

January 2013
What Does the Future Hold?

September 2012
"Locale" Produce and Reducing the Impact of Recalls

January 2012
Making the Case for Traceability

September 2011
GTINs – the Devil Is in the Details

August 2011
Turbocharge Mobile Marketing with HarvestMark and QR Codes

May 2011
Traceability Insider

January 2011
It's a New Year. What's the latest on PTI?

May 2010
HarvestMark Makes its VoiceCode™ Solution Open Source

December 2009
IFT Publishes Traceability Report for FDA

Holiday Issue 2009
What Happened at the FDA/USDA Hearing on Food Traceability

September 2009
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

August 2009
How to Avoid Synching Without Trace

July 2009
What's the Value of PTI?

May 2009
Case-Level and Item-Level Traceability-What You Need to Know

April 2009
Still Have Questions about PTI? Don't Worry, You're Not Alone

March 2009
PTI, GS1, GTIN, GLN? HarvestMark's Got the FAQs

January 2009
The First PTI Milestone is Around the Corner

December 2008
A Pivotal Year for Food Safety

November 2008
FDA Solicits Public Comment on Enhanced Produce Traceability

October 2008
Produce Traceability Initiative Action Plan Released

September 2008
How Will Greater Transparency Enhance Your Business?

Español - 01 2012
Elaborando el Caso para Trazabilidad

Español - 03 2012
La Más Reciente Norma de la FDA es Efectiva Inmediatamente. ¿Debería Usted Estar Preocupado?

August 2013
How Walmart Could Implement PTI, Crowdsourced Shopper Insights

June 2010
How to Interpret the PTI announcement of "Goal Unchanged, Milestones Adjusted"

December 2010
An Update on the PTI

July 2010
Produce Traceability in Foodservice

February 2010
What's Going on with the PTI

March 2010
Consumer Attitudes to Traceability

August 2010
HarvestMark Launches Consumer Campaign in Portland, OR

March 2011
Have you heard of the PLU DataBar Initiative?

November 2011
Traceability? There’s an App for That

December 2012
It’s all new. Introducing HarvestMark 2013.

March 2012
The FDA's Latest Ruling is Effective Immediately. Should You be Worried?

June 2012
Do QR Codes REALLY Drive Shopper Engagement?

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December 2010: An Update on the PTI

The calendar is getting closer to rolling over to 2011. We're also hearing clearer signals from the market on expectations for compliance with next year's PTI milestone. At a PMA event in October, Terri Miller made Food Lion's commitment to PTI clear. At a similar event in November, Walmart's Mike Agostini made the strongest public announcement by a major retailer to date, stating that Walmart expects its suppliers to be 100% committed to the PTI timeline and standards. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many retailers are gearing up to collect GTIN information from their suppliers, and exploring how to handle the additional data.

By the end of 2011, shippers need to have created and shared a GTIN list, and should be putting PTI-compliant information (a GTIN and date-specific Lot in human readable and barcode format) on every case. Finally, an electronic record needs to be kept of the ship-to information for each GTIN and Lot.

HarvestMark is the #1 provider of PTI solutions, with over 100 systems deployed in production, including line pack, shed pack, and field pack. We've helped our customers implement everything from single systems running in a packing shed to synchronized solutions across multiple co-packers.

Whether you're wondering how to interpret GDSN rules, GS1 standards, label standards, or looking for ways to capture a payback from implementing PTI ... please drop us a line. We would value the opportunity to work with you.

What's this Voice Pick Code Thing?

The PTI leadership committee recently announced that it had adopted our VoiceCode technology as part of the PTI label standard. You may be wondering what it is and why it's important, so here goes (without getting overly technical):

  • PTI Milestone 7 requires that retailers and foodservice operators record the GTIN and Lot number of every case they ship out, and where they shipped it.
  • Scanning billions of case labels was going to add huge equipment costs and delays into highly efficient distribution systems.
  • The VoiceCode is a 4 digit 'digest' of the GTIN and Lot number that's calculated by running the GTIN and Lot number through an algorithm, called a CRC-16. This algorithm basically crunches the numbers and letters of the GTIN and Lot down to 4 numbers. Change any part of the GTIN or Lot and the VoiceCode changes. The VoiceCode is calculated when the label is generated, and printed on the label.
  • The majority of large distribution centers use a voice-operated case picking system (often called voice pick), that uses a headset and voice recognition to guide operators which slot to pick cases from.
  • With the VoiceCode, the operator now simply reads out 2 or 4 digits on the label when they pick cases at a slot, instead of scanning the label with a barcode scanner. The VoiceCode is clearly printed in large, contrasted letters - making it easy for an operator.
  • The system can figure out which GTIN and Lot was picked in a slot based on the VoiceCode, and handles situations where cases with different GTINs or Lot Numbers in the same slot have the same VoiceCode.
  • The system works because everyone uses the same hash algorithm.

The good news for the industry is that VoiceCode is completely free. After we came up with the idea back in 2009, we decided to give the method away to help the industry tackle the problem of Milestone 7. Major retailers have credited the VoiceCode with making outbound scanning achievable. We published some sample source code you can use to generate VoiceCodes yourself. Because the VoiceCode is now part of the PTI standard, the PTI refers to it in a generic way: the PTI voice pick code.

If you want the technical details and all the math behind how and why VoiceCode works, you can download our whitepaper. One of the big voice picking software companies, Vocollect, also wrote a white paper on VoiceCode - you can get that here too.



Sample label, showing the VoiceCode in the bottom right hand corne


HarvestMark Kicks Off Consumer Campaign

Last spring we partnered with a large national grocery retailer to understand the impact of HarvestMark traceability on shopper behavior. Focus groups, shop-alongs, and a large qualitative study concluded that shoppers are much more likely to purchase products offering HarvestMark traceability.

With over 2 billion items of produce with HarvestMark codes in the marketplace, the single best source of awareness is the package itself with visible call-to-actions like "see when and where I was grown" or "trace me back to the farm." To complement our customers' efforts and raise awareness of HarvestMark, our marketing team partnered with a national brand customer to raise awareness in a single market, Portland, Oregon.

Our campaign in Portland confirmed the research findings. When our customer added HarvestMark traceability to their products with a strong on-pack callout, and marketed in-store, sales grew significantly. In addition, the trace rate tripled vs. our national average, and we received over 2 million press impressions for HarvestMark and our customers' brands.  Shoppers really do care about being able to follow their food back to the farm and value the peace of mind it creates.