FMI Board Endorses the Recommendations of the Produce Traceability Initiative

October 31, 2008
Boston, MA – October 18, 2008 – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Board of Directors announced its endorsement of the recommendations of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) and the plan to create a standardized system for electronic traceability for produce at its meeting in Boston today. The PTI Steering Committee is chaired by Cathy Green, chief operating officer, Food Lion, LLC.

Participants will adopt a standardized system of case bar-coding for all produce sold in the United States to allow product to be quickly and efficiently tracked throughout the distribution chain. This will maximize the effectiveness of the industry’s current traceability procedures, improve internal efficiencies and assist retailers, wholesalers and producers when they need to quickly trace back a product.

The program will build on current internal traceability systems by using the existing international standards from GS1, the not-for-profit standards organization. It will also provide the capacity to achieve external traceability by standardizing and incorporating the Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN) and a lot number, which will bring new connectivity between companies across the supply chain.

This information will be labeled on each case in human-readable form so that it can be read and understood by personnel throughout the supply chain. The machine-readable barcode will also appear, which each member of the supply chain will be able to scan and maintain in their computer systems.

PTI identified seven steps for supply chain electronic traceability by late 2012:

  1. By first quarter 2009, brand owners must assign 14-digit GTINs to all case configurations.

  2. By third quarter 2009, brand owners must provide and maintain their GTINs (and corresponding data) with their buyers.

  3. By third quarter 2010, those packing the product are responsible for providing human-readable information on each case (GTIN and lot number).

  4. By third quarter 2010, those packing the product are responsible for encoding the GTIN and the lot number on case labels in human-readable form and machine-readable barcodes using a standard case label.

  5. By 2011, each handler of the case must read and store the GTIN and associated lot number for inbound cases.

  6. By 2012, each handler of the case must read and store the GTIN and associated lot number for outbound cases.

PTI was created by retailers, growers, shippers, brokers, terminal markets, distributors and foodservice companies to create a common standard for electronic produce traceability throughout the supply chain by the end of 2012. The PTI is sponsored by Produce Marketing Association (PMA), United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and is endorsed by FMI and five other trade associations.

Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit