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.