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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August 2009: How to Avoid Synching Without Trace

The PTI recently published the Data Synchronization template here. This is the critical standardized schema for a packer/shipper to share their GTIN data with all of their buyers by the September 2009 deadline.

What is synchronization and what data do you need to synchronize?

To comply with PTI, the grower/shipper assigns a unique item reference number to each of their SKUs, appended to their GS1 Company Prefix. This is their GTIN. However, to convert the GTIN back into a product description, the downstream supply chain participants need to have a way to translate the GTINs of each grower/shipper. That's where synchronization comes in. According to the PTI, it's the responsibility of the upstream provider to provide their downstream customers with the list of those GTINs that they'll receive, well in advance.

There are some nuances in this requirement. A distributor who consolidates shipments from multiple suppliers, or a shipper who occasionally fills a short order with product from a third party, will have to pre-approve and synchronize all the GTINs they could potentially ship.

The Data Synchronization Template lays out in an Excel spreadsheet the 24 attributes of a GTIN. In addition to the descriptive fields of the product (commodity, variety , size, and country of origin) are the inner packaging style (e.g. 4lb bag, 16oz clamshells) and outer packaging style (e.g. Case, RPC) and characteristics (e.g. 40LB NET, dimensions, and TI-HI). The idea is that the shipper completes this Excel sheet, and emails it in Comma Delimited Format (.CSV) to their customers.

There's quite a lot of complexity in getting this right, too and some questions are still to be resolved by the PTI subcommittee. For example, many products have grade as an important attribute, but this is not included in the list. Second, the TI-HI is necessarily a nominal measurement for the case, as pallets are obviously frequently restacked or mixed as they pass through the supply chain, making the TI-HI no longer relevant. Third, without a standard naming convention for the commodity, it could be difficult to perform a trace-back of a particular product based on the name (e.g. what if someone enters "watermellon"?). We'll keep readers of Traceability Insider posted on answers to these and more questions.

If you have specific questions about the PTI - or anything related to produce traceability, feel free to contact us.

Consumers Want to see the Face Behind their Food


Ongoing food safety concerns combined with greater social awareness will continue to drive consumers' quest for more information about how and where their food was grown. PMA President Bryan Silbermann echoed this trend in July as he emphasized the importance of going back to basics beginning with "telling our story." "Locavorism, organics, sustainability, food safety and traceability ? these movements tell us that consumers want to know the face behind their food, the story behind their sustenance."

In this vein, HarvestMark recently commissioned a survey of over 450 consumers across the U.S. on their attitudes regarding produce safety and traceability. Results showed that seven in 10 stated that they would choose produce that is traceable over produce that is not, and close to half of consumers stating that they would be willing to pay more for produce that is traceable. This is a powerful message for the value of traceability and very consistent with results from a similar survey we commissioned in 2007.

Furthermore, more consumers are becoming aware of traceability with eight out of 10 stating that they would use a Web-based produce tracking system. We will be sharing additional insights from the survey in the September issue of the Traceability Insider, and will be giving away copies of the research at the United Fresh Public Policy Conference and PMA Fresh Summit (see sidebar for details).

When HarvestMark launched, we set out to provide growers an easy way to connect with consumers and share their stories. Today, three quarters of a billion produce items are traceable with HarvestMark Codes. Growers now have the opportunity to deliver even more information to build stronger connections with consumers with the new, richer HarvestMark response page, which launched this month. Click image to zoom in.