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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February 2010: What's Going on with the PTI

There's been a lot of debate during the last month about whether PTI has ‘stalled'. However, there's actually been a great deal of progress if you look under the hood:

GTINs are getting assigned. GS1 has been steadily issuing new company prefixes, while many larger shippers realized they already had a GS1 number either associated with their UPC codes or Databar efforts, or simply acquired years ago for nothing. Companies are taking advantage of simple, free GTIN creation tools (such as the one we provide) to get GTIN assignments complete.

Companies are actively deploying PTI solutions. Dozens of shippers have deployed the HarvestMark PTI solution, in the US, Canada and Mexico – and discovered compliance wasn't as hard as they had feared. We know of others who were able to modify their existing case coding technology in house to print PTI-compliant data. PTI compliant cases are already showing up in distribution centers and brokerage warehouses.

Congress is still thinking. The rumor from the Hill is that back-room negotiations on the "Food Safety Enhancement Act" continue. FDA has been studying traceability (IFT presented its recommendations to the FDA, which were largely aligned with the PTI best practices, which we discussed in a previous edition of Traceability Insider). The Food Safety Enhancement Act is expected to pass with its traceability requirements intact. PMA and United Fresh have been consistently supportive of the PTI.

Retailers are working on methods to meet their milestones. Retailers have been studying tools and processes to implement PTI Milestones 6 and 7. While they have a year or two before compliance, several are already looking at how to adapt their warehouse management systems to support the program.

Having said that, it's not all plain sailing. Where are the roadblocks?

Field Packing. Applying PTI requirements to field-packed produce (10- 15% of production by volume) poses challenges in printing and labeling cases in the field. Adoption has been slower in this category due to the additional complexity, labor and equipment cost. However, some growers are using this as an opportunity to grab a bundle of in-field efficiency improvements, such as labor data collection, field input data collection, and product visibility at the same time as traceability. The HarvestMark team developed a field-pack solution that creates a platform for this kind of efficiency gain.

Assigning GTINs has some hidden complexities. There are some details that make assigning GTINs confusing and frustrating. Do different brands from the same shipper need different GTINs for the same item? Does a co-packer use their GS1 prefix or the customer's? How is a 1 1/9 bushel defined? How is organic distinguished from conventional product? Is it permissible to use packaging levels 2-8? What's the relationship between the GTIN on the Databar, and the GTIN for the case? The HarvestMark team is GS1 Certified and is here to help you work through these questions.

The VoiceCode™


PTI Milestone 7 requires that handlers record every outbound case's GTIN and Lot Number (and date). The problem is, manually scanning outbound cases would create a significant increase in labor cost, equipment costs, and packing time at large distribution centers. As a result, some have feared that the retailers won't meet their obligations. In collaboration with major retailers we developed the VoiceCode™ method to completely eliminate the need to scan cases out.

The VoiceCode is a 4 digit algorithmic digest of the GTIN and Lot Code (and Date if required). The VoiceCode is printed on the label when the label is generated. When a pallet's received, the GTINs and Lot numbers (and dates) for cases on a pallet are loaded into the WMS either by EDI/ASN or by scanning the Hybrid Pallet Tag – per Milestone 6.

When picking cases from a mixed pallet the voice picking system used in the warehouse simply instructs the operator to look for the VoiceCode on the label, and/or get verbal confirmation of the cases selected. The 2 least significant digits of the VoiceCode are printed large, and are all that is required most of the time when dealing with a mixed pallet because of the low likelihood of a collision on a pallet (2 cases with different GTIN/Lot but the same VoiceCode). In the event that there is a collision on a pallet, all 4 digits are used. A mixed pallet with two different items will have a 1 in 10,000 chance of a collision at the 4 digit level.

The VoiceCode is superior to highlighting or using a few characters of the Lot Code, e.g. the last four, for three reasons. First, a Lot Code is high collision (different products could easily have the same last four characters), second, a Lot Code can include letters, which VoicePick systems can have problems understanding, and finally the Lot Code may not be date specific.

The VoiceCode doesn't replace the printed GTIN or Lot or barcode, it simply makes it easy to discriminate a case on a pallet. It doesn't reduce the accuracy or precision of data collected. Best of all, it doesn't add any cost. HarvestMark has patents pending on the method, and is providing the algorithms free of charge to the industry.

If you'd like to find out more about VoiceCode, and get a copy of the white paper, please contact us.