International News > The Product Traceability Initiative (PTI)

27 August 2020

The Product Traceability Initiative (PTI)

Worldwide, produce industry bodies have been increasingly working with GS1 to implement national Traceability guidelines in a coordinated manner that are interoperable and enable rapid reactivity.

In North America, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 United States, The Produce Marketing Association, and the United Fresh Produce Association of America have established the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI)[1], which has developed and co-published a range of  Traceability guidelines for the North American Produce Industry.

The goal of PTI is to: “help the produce industry maximize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of Traceability systems for the future[2]”.

Traceability does not work without an underpinning standard that enables participants in a supply chain to recognise and move electronic data related to physical product, parallel to moving the product itself. In today’s complex trading environments that span the globe, such standards cannot be determined and developed by participants in a single supply chain, regardless of how significant that supply chain is. Nor can such standards be determined and developed on a national basis. These standards have to be able to function globally.

The PTI Project Teams prepared a range of Best Practice documents for the North American Produce Industry, as they worked on improving the Traceability capability of the industry.[3]

The learnings from the work conducted by PTI, which reaches back to 2007 and have been incorporated into our thinking as we prepared the New Zealand Draft Guidelines, have allowed New Zealand’s produce industry to start addressing the issues regarding Traceability within its own supply chain with information on what has been done to address the same issues overseas.

Global Standards Organisation (GS1)

GS1 is a global standards organisation active in over 100 countries. GS1 is dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards for use in the supply chain. These standards provide a framework that allows products, services and information about them to move efficiently and securely for the benefit of businesses and the improvement of people’s lives, every day, everywhere[4]. GS1 is a not-for-profit body owned by its members, who are companies that use the GS1 system.

GS1 standards bring together participants representing all parts of the supply chain.

These standards are used by huge multinational chains and by small corner shops, by world famous brands and by individual craftsmen. GS1 standards make Traceability systems possible on a global scale - no matter how many companies are involved or how many borders are crossed as food and food ingredients travel from one end of the supply chain all the way to the consumer[5].

Identification in this manner is a prerequisite for efficient communication between trading partners. A Global Location Number (GLN) acts as a database key which references location specific information that is repeatedly applied. Its function is to reduce input errors and increase efficiency.

In Europe, the Dutch Produce Industry Body, FrugiCom, have developed and co-published a range of Traceability guidelines for the European Produce Industry, with contributions from individual country GS1 organisations, European national produce organisations, and GS1 Global.

Internationally, United Fresh works with GS1 through its membership with the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS).

The United Fresh Technical Advisory Group (TAG), where Dr Hans Maurer is the New Zealand representative on the board of IFPS.

If you would like to know more on this information, please contact: Dr. Hans Maurer 027 570 2346 or 09 414 9436,