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Produce Traceability Initiative - PTI Technical Information

Symbology, Inc. helps our clients understand PTI and implement efficient, cost-effective solutions.

PTI Overview

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is an effort to improve produce traceability throughout the supply chain. The Initiative's sponsors include United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh), Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and Produce Marketing Association (PMA) in cooperation with GS1 US. The recommendation is for a standardized approach for electronic traceability at the case-level in 2012.

Produce industry leaders have recognized that a systematic, industry-wide approach would enhance overall supply chain traceability speed and efficiency. The use of standards in the supply chain across the industry will significantly enhance the ability to narrow the impact of recalls or similar problems, protecting both consumers and industry members.

Specifically, PTI's target benefits include:

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Enhance and maintain the confidence of consumers and government, supporting commitment to food safety

  • Reduce the scale and expense of recalls
  • Improve tracking - fast/effeicient recalls/product withdrawal
  • Complete data availability
    • Field to POS
    • Aids in inventory management
  • Faster delivery of orders to retailers, distributors, operators
  • Better data on customer needs
  • Improvements in the packing procedures, data flow; case sorting; general streamline of process
  • Costs reduced (pre-printed case identification)

How does it work?

  • The PTI uses a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) to achieve external traceability. A GTIN includes a GS1 company prefix, lot/batch number, etc. and can be readily incorporated into a barcode - identifying the organization and trade item in a machine readable form
  • GTINs encoded in a barcode are printed on uniquely numbered PTI labels (or on the case itself) that identify each case of produce, tracking it back to the grower
  • In the event of a contamination, the product can be traced from the field to the store in a matter of hours via an automated method vs. the current slow, error-prone manual method
    o PTI works via a "One step up, one step down" principle
    o Each member of the chain must provide the tracing information (as incorporated into the machine readable barcode) to the next trading partner in line from the grower to the retailer (or in reverse order if recall is issued)

PTI's driving forces include industry wide working groups that are helping define, develop and move forward with acceptance and implementation of case level labeling/tracking. Symbology, Inc. is active in the PTI Technology Working Group, addressing technological issues and educating participants about tracking solutions.

For further details about the Produce Traceability Initiative's recommendations, best practices, and activities, visit the PTI website ( The site contains information regarding the organization's mission, tools to assist with completion of implementation milestones and educational webinar links.