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


We're getting a lot of questions about implementing traceability - in particular the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) to put standardized labels on every case. Last month we discussed how to get a GS1 Company Prefix and what a GTIN was. You can read it again here. This month, we dive a bit deeper into answering specific questions that often arise when you get started.

Do I need to put a Company Specific GTIN on the item level?

Not necessarily. The PTI Guidelines apply only to case-level produce at this point. Some retailers are asking their shippers to add a company-specific GTIN to item-level too (either as a UPC or Databar) but this is not part of the PTI roadmap.



What's the difference between a GTIN and a UPC?

Technically, a UPC is a type of GTIN, but often when you hear GTIN in the context of PTI, it means the code on the case label in a GS1-128 barcode. You use the GTIN on a case label, a UPC on item labels that are big enough to accommodate the standard UPC-A barcode (such as watermelon or clamshell), and a Databar on small items such as PLU labels. A GTIN and a UPC both have 3 components: a Company Prefix, Item Reference Number, and Check Digit, but for produce companies in the U.S. the GTIN on the case label also has a Packaging Level Identifier (1-8) and a 0 before the Company Prefix. In the example below, the Company Prefix is 614141 in both instances.

Is UPC the same as Databar?

No. The UPC is the code format typically seen on packaged goods (the UPC-A above). The Databar is a new format of barcode designed for small format labels, such as small PLU labels.


Can I use the Company Prefix that I got from GS1 in a UPC?

Yes. When a company receives their Company Prefix, they can use this for assigning a UPC number or a case GTIN. The difference is that the company prefix has a leading 0 when used for a case GTIN. Like the GTIN, the UPC has three components: a Company Prefix (which ranges from 6 to 9 digits), an item reference number and a check digit. Note, that if you DO change your UPC code you must communicate it to all your retail customers - to avoid an "item not recognized" at the retail POS.

Will my retail customers specify the GTIN or Item reference numbers?

No. The Item Reference number is determined by the entity who is applying the label (or the shipper in the case of a contract grower).

How many products should I plan to identify with a GTIN?


This is determined by how many different SKU's you have today and are likely to have in the future. We have developed a simple Excel tool for estimating this. Just contact us to get a copy.

How should I assign Item Reference Numbers to SKUs?

This is called the GTIN assignment strategy. Assuming you acquired space for 999 SKUs from GS1, then you have to decide how to allocate those 999 numbers. There are a dozen primary attributes that could be used to describe a SKU: Commodity, Variety, Origin, Grade, Size, Count, Shipping Container, Inner Pack Style, Inner Pack Quantity, Inner Pack Size, Inner Pack UOM, and Growing Method. We have created a simple Excel model for figuring out how many SKU's you'll need - and to help with different GTIN Assignments. Just email us to get a copy. Note, the count can alternatively be designated by changing the Packaging Level Identifier.

Do I need a NDC or NHRIC?


This is a question asked when you sign up for a GS1 Company Prefix. No, this is intended for companies selling pharmaceutical products.

How big is the PTI Label?

A basic PTI label has the commodity, quantity, and GTIN/Lot number. This label will be approximately 4" wide, and 2.5" tall. If you don't have the shipper name and address and Country of Origin on the case, plan on adding another inch in label height. The GS1-128 barcode should be printed at 20 mil.

Do I need to label multiple faces of each case?

Right now the 'best practice' is a single label. It may not always be so.

Can I inkjet print the PTI information directly on the case?

Currently the guidelines stipulate a label, but don't seem to prohibit inkjet printing. The main concern with ink-jetting onto a case is the lack of resolution and contrast required to print a reliably readable GS1-128 barcode. Certainly there are inkjet systems capable of printing the code - but a thermal transfer printed label is the dominant method so far.