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Produce Traceability

Many retailers have endorsed the PTI and thus are on the path toward a global traceability standard. As retailers begin setting up processes inside their distribution centers to begin scanning inbound cases for traceability information, those suppliers who are not participating in the initiative will quickly be identified by not having the necessary information shown on their cases. At that time, they will be notified accordingly, as they pose a risk to us by not giving us the ability to track one step up the supply chain.

Cathy Green, COO of Food Lion

All TraceKits provide Milestone 6 compliance from the start.

* Update: Milestones 4 and 5 made concurrent with Milestone 6 (PTI press release)


Why Traceability

Action Plan

The Produce Traceability Initiative sponsored by the three associations will provide industry members with extensive education, outreach and guidance on implementing these recommendations over the next several years. The Action Plan below provides only an outline of key steps and milestones recommended. Comprehensive background information on each of these steps and the addition of best practices to assist the industry on accomplishing these milestones will be provided to the industry apart from this document

Milestone #1

by Q1 2009

Obtain Company Prefix

At the heart of the GS1 numbering system is the requirement that each “brand owner” obtain a unique GS1-issued company prefix, which allows for unique identification of products from that company. This company prefix will then become part of all GTINs assigned to cases of produce from that company, and immediately serve to identify the “brand owner” of that product throughout the supply chain. Companies that repack produce into a new container or alter the case configuration or makeup of the product inside in any way, will become the new “brand owner” and thus will also need to obtain their own unique company prefix.

Milestone #2

by Q1 2009

Assign GTIN Numbers

Brand owners must then assign specific 14-digit GTIN numbers to all of their various case configurations based on the combination of their company prefix and a reference number. This reference number represents various attributes of the case and of the produce inside the case. It is highly recommended that companies use the GTIN Assignment Strategy provided by the associations as a guide to allow for consistency across the industry. The GTIN Assignment Strategy can be found under the Best Practices section of the Resources & Tools page at

Milestone #3

by Q3 2009

Provide GTIN Information to Buyers

After determining the GTINs of their own case configurations, brand owners must then communicate this information and corresponding data to their buyers. This is necessary so that the buyer can understand the information represented by the GTIN once the number is scanned at the receiver location. For additional information, please refer to Milestone #3 at

Milestone #4

by Q3 2010* in 2011

Show Human Readable Information on Case

At this milestone, all of those packing the product should be ready to print or affix human readable information specifying the GTIN and lot number on every case of produce shipped. The GTIN and lot number should be shown together on at least one side of the carton in order that buyers and receivers can quickly read the information. The Best Practices for Case Labeling can be found under the Related Documents section of the Technology & Standards: Traceability page at

Milestone #5

by Q3 2010* in 2011

Encode Information in a Barcode on Case

Concurrently, those packing the product should be ready to encode the GTIN and lot number in a GS1-128 barcode, which can be accurately scanned and recorded by buyers and receivers. Refer to Best Practices for Case Labeling for additional information. The human readable information should be shown directly below or above the barcode.

Milestone #6

in 2011

Read and Store Information on Inbound Cases

All buyers, receivers and subsequent handlers of cases should have systems in place to read barcodes and electronically store the GTIN and lot number from each case of produce received. This will provide readily accessible information on all produce received into each handler's inventory throughout the supply chain, allowing companies to quickly track product within their own control by GTINs and lot numbers. For solutions that address scanning every inbound case, a document called Best Practices for Pallet Labeling is being prepared.

Milestone #7

in 2012

Read and Store Information on Outbound Cases

All buyers, receivers and subsequent handlers of cases should have systems in place to read and store the GTIN and lot number for all outbound cases of produce. This final step provides complete information on when the product left your facility, thus completing electronic connectivity of case data across the total supply chain. A document named Best Practices for Outbound Scanning is being produced and will be located on PMA's website.