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.