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United Fresh Chicago 2016 & PTI Leadership Meeting Update

June 2016, Comments from Todd Baggett

Chicago welcomed the United Fresh and FMI show attendees once again the week of June 20th.

While I have attended the United Fresh Show each year for the past decade, RedLine Solutions had taken a break from exhibiting the past few years. However, with the release of our new web based inventory and traceability software, we decided to exhibit this year, and I’m glad we did. In addition to being a finalist in the “Best New Food Safety “ Product Category, we had great conversations with growers, distributors, and food service businesses that are crossing the chasm from manual to electronic records for inventory and traceability.

I also attending the PTI Leadership Team meeting, which brought forth some interesting information. It has been clear the larger grower-shippers have been ready to implement PTI for some time. While some of the thought leaders Walmart and Whole Foods have PTI requirements, many retailers are lagging behind. Until these bigger retailers decide to join in, Whole Chain Traceability will remain an unfulfilled promise our industry made to consumers 8 years ago.

There was some discussion about the letter Walmart sent produce suppliers in February asking them to add PLU or UPC to Walmart bound RPC labels starting June 20th. They requested this item level identification on the cases to help them bridge the gap they have between their Distribution and Store Systems while they build this connection. This request will not be incorporated in the PTI Case Labeling best practices, because it is a Walmart requirement not an official PTI requirement. Many of RedLine’s customers ship to Walmart, so we made the changes across our product line to support the new Walmart case traceability label format.

The good news is that the Foodservice sector is not lagging, in fact they have been moving quickly. Driven by the leading food manufacturers, distributors, associations, and operators the Foodservice GS1 Standards Initiative report stated we are approaching 90% compliance.

On the regulatory front, the FDA has released the remaining FSMA regulations which are in place now. While it may be a few years before you see regular FDA plant inspections, the reality is if you have a problem and are not in compliance with current regulations you will need to get in compliance quickly. The Safe Food for Canadians Act is moving full steam ahead and we should see their new regulation by end of year.

The path is clear, new Food Safety regulation will be driving change throughout all fresh sectors in the next few years; ready or not here it comes!

Image below shows PTI Technology Working Group Co-Chairs Dan Vaché and Todd Baggett at the United Fresh Show



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