Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Given Huge Boost By Walmart

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Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Given Huge Boost By Walmart

Recently, retail giant Walmart announced that by year's end, produce suppliers must be compliant with the PTI, or Produce Traceability Initiative. Ultimately, many believe Walmart's action will give the PTI concept the boost it needs to become the standard for the produce industry in the near future, rather than later. Launched about six years ago after a widespread outbreak of E. Coli in 2006 connected to fresh spinach, PTI was developed as a method that would make it possible to trace produce from the fields to the dinner table, ultimately making it possible to pinpoint safety issues related to fresh produce without having to remove an entire item (such as all brands of spinach) from the grocery shelves. Lubbock-based United Supermarkets has also requested that all suppliers of produce to its 51-store chain be PTI compliant. Tommy Wilkins, United Supermarkets' director of produce procurement, said that recently the company had noticed that produce being brought into the distribution center has fresher dates, although he could not contribute this specifically to PTI, saying that, "It may be simply a case of people doing a better job now that they are being watched." The grocery store chain has begun recording and storing traceability numbers at the point the produce enters the distribution center. Wilkins went on to say that United Supermarkets now has information it lacked before, due to the capturing of data. Walmart issued a letter to its suppliers on May 29 which alerted to the fact that by November 1st of this year, standardized case labels which are consistent with PTI standards will be required of all fresh commodity produce delivered to the company's distribution centers. Additionally, the letter revealed that produce that is not in compliance with PTI by January 1, 2014 will be considered out of spec and rejected. While not all produce suppliers had a positive reaction to the letter issued by Walmart, others feel strongly that the step being taken by Walmart will result in a large portion of the produce industry being in compliance with PTI by 2015. As reputable suppliers of industrial traceability solutions around the world, Markem-Imaje takes a huge interest in these issues in our efforts to provide cost-effective solutions to companies in a variety of industries including food, electronics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and more.

January 10, 2014
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