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?

Become a Traceability Insider

Learn what's happening in the world of traceability and beyond in our monthly Traceability Insider. Subscribe today to get the latest news on HarvestMark as well as commentary, insight and information on the latest issues and trends impacting the industry.

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


Adoption of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is underway - the Q1 deadline for acquiring a GS1 Company Prefix has just passed. Many companies grasp the basics (get a GS1 Company Prefix, create a GTIN list - topics we covered in previous issues here and here) - but there are many more questions in the details. In this edition of Traceability Insider, we'll roll up our sleeves and give you answers on questions that can arise when you start implementing.

How do I know if I need to get a GS1 Company Prefix?

If you're a brand owner (i.e. your company name is on the case) - you'll need your own Company Prefix. In other words, captive growers don't need their own GTINs. If they need to label a case, they'll be provided the GTIN by the brand owner.

What if I'm a small company, that is actually owned by a bigger company?

You can use the parent's company prefix but remember that any recall will then implicate the parent company (and will be only narrowed by the SKU and LOT information).

Is there a standard list of reference numbers for certain types of produce - just like PLUs?

No. There cannot be a standardized list across all suppliers. Each shipper is responsible for designating a reference number to each produce item and case configuration.

How specific does the GTIN need to be?

Origin, Grade, Size, Inner Pack Style, Inner Pack Quantity, Inner Pack Size, Inner Pack UOM, Growing Method, Case Count/Weight (e.g. 40 count, 25lb, etc.), and Shipping Container (e.g. carton, 24" bin, RPC, etc.). The guidelines given by the PTI recommend describing a case as if it were a product catalog for a buyer - i.e. don't include dimensions that the customer isn't interested in.

What tools are there for creating a GTIN assignment list?

We have created a really simple tool to generate case-level GTINs specifically for produce. There is also a tool from GS1 called DataDriver, but as this wasn't specifically designed for produce it can be fiddly to create case GTINs if you don't have item-level UPC codes. We'll be demonstrating our GTIN solution at United Fresh Booth #2505, and we provide the tool free of charge to HarvestMark customers.

How can I label cases that I pack in the field?

This is a tricky question and is an area we at HarvestMark are working hard on. The configuration of field-packed cases is often determined in the field - so printing labels in advance is problematic. Labeling in the field adds significant labor cost (not to say yards of backing tape trash). Printing labels in the field poses serious cost and reliability problems. We've completed some analysis to identify the best way to label field-packed produce. Contact us if you'd like to see the results.

I didn't get a Company Prefix or do my GTIN list yet - what are the implications?

Nothing yet. The first milestone that is actually measurable outside your organization is when you share the GTIN list with buyers: Q3 2009.

I'm being asked for a case UPC - what's that?

There is no such thing. The case code is called a GTIN and should be 14 digits.

I heard that "[a retailer] will require suppliers to ship product with labels indicating field location, what chemicals were used in production and the dates the commodity was planted, harvested, processed and shipped". Is that true?

No. So far the requirements for labels from retailers have hewed fairly closely to the PTI label design.

Does the PTI require me to change my UPC code?

No. The PTI only relates to cases, and has nothing to do with UPC codes or databar.

What about RPCs?

They are covered by the PTI. The PTI label must include an address and COO, in addition to the commodity/variety, quantity, and GTIN/LOT.

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

No. Currently the guidelines require a label. A fast thermal transfer printer can generate a 3" tall label in approx. 0.5 seconds.

How do I make sure I get the right label, on the right case, at the right time?

HarvestMark is launching a suite of PTI products to do exactly this - please contact us.