Supply Chain Management


Traceability is a business process that enables trading partners to follow products forward and backward through the supply chain.  

Produce Traceability

Traceability is important to the produce industry for many reasons, including improving food safety by being able to quickly and accurately remove potentially harmful products from the supply chain. 

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is an industry led initiative to achieve whole chain traceability in the produce supply chain by using common industry data standards and the electronic storage and retrieval of traceability related data.

Traceability has become an issue of great importance to the produce industry due to regulatory requirements such as the U.S. Bioterrorism Act, as well as ongoing food safety issues and the need for supply chain transparency and more information on the produce we grow, pack, ship, store, process, distribute and sell.

The Produce Traceability Initiative was formed in 2008 by representatives from over 40 companies including growers, packer/shippers, marketers, distributors and wholesalers, food service and retail and eight trade associations to begin working on an action plan to ensure the industry has a process that will work for the entire supply chain. 

The Produce Traceability Initiative Steering Committee developed a traceability solution that members felt could be reasonably implemented by produce companies, large and small alike, across the entire supply chain and operating within the U.S. market and those exporting to the U.S. 

Leafy Green Traceability Pilots Reveal the Value of Sharing Extended Product Information During a Traceback Investigation

On December 3, 2020 a group of six industry organizations released a report outlining four months of leafy green traceability pilots with supply chain partners, including growers, distributors and both independent and chain retailers, offering a detailed response to the request by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) for improved traceability in the food system.

The three pilots, conducted July through October, showed that investigations into foodborne illness outbreaks could be streamlined and conducted more effectively when supply chain partners provided extended product information during tracebacks.

Additionally, the use of a standard template called the Produce Traceback Template to exchange pertinent product information was found to enhance the speed of tracing procedures. All of the pilots were successful in tracing the source of the affected product.

Food Traceability in Legislative and Regulatory Circles

While several congressional bills include traceability either as a component or as the exclusive focus including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which will encompass a record-keeping rule that focuses on traceability.  

Industry Perspective on Proposed Rule

Growers, fresh-cut processors, distributors, and retail/foodservice sectors each face unique challenges in capturing, managing and linking traceability data, and developed a white paper to share some of these perspectives.

FDA's Product Tracing Pilot Report Released from IFT aligns with PTI

A report, Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing Along the Food Supply System Final Report, required by FSMA was published for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). It provided recommendations on traceability that are consistent with the industry's Produce Traceability Initiative. 

The report aligns with PTI in many of its recommendations, including:

  • encouraging current industry-led initiatives
  • not excluding commodities
  • accepting electronic traceability data/records during product tracing investigations
  • requiring all organizations that handle food in the supply chain to identify and maintain records of traceability related information

Produce Traceability Initiative Participating Companies

PTI is supported by the volunteer work of dozens of companies that hail from across the fresh produce supply chain, from farm to store to table. Representatives of these companies currently serve as volunteers to PTI's Leadership Council, Executive Committee, working groups and/or task forces.


Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC)

The Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) is a collaborative partnership including public and private stakeholders, created to address the challenges and opportunities of global food traceability implementation. 

The Mission of the GFTC is to serve all aspects of the global food system by generating knowledge that addresses informational gaps while delivering applied research, objective advice, and practical expertise about food product traceability and data collaboration for private benefit and public good.  

PMA participates as the sole produce trade association as a founding member and advisory board member of the GFTC. This will ensure the fundamentals of the Produce Traceability Initiative will be adopted by the GFTC as the global standard for fresh produce traceability.


PTI's 5 Ws (and 1 H): Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

This webinar is designed for anyone seeking a basic understanding of the PTI. In this session, the PTI’s volunteer and staff leaders will address why traceability change is needed, how the PTI came about, what its implementation costs and benefits are, the standards that are involved, and where to find implementation help. After this session, you will have a clear understanding of what the PTI really is – and what it isn’t.

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Packers/Shippers

Learn best practices for implementing PTI from early adopters with hands-on experience in both field and facility packing. You will take away sound, real-world recommendations for implementing PTI within your business, and where to find resources. 

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Assigning GTINs

In this session, you will learn how to approach Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) assignment strategically as well as best practices to use in assigning your GTINs.

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Case Labeling

In this session, you will learn more about the global GS1 standards upon which PTI-compliant case labels are based. You will also learn the basics of case labeling from PTI early adopters. You will take away hands-on tips and tools for implementing case labeling, while minimizing your company’s time and costs as much as possible.

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Retailers

In this session, you will learn best practices for retailers implementing the PTI from sector early adopters. You will take away a plan for implementing the PTI within your business, and contact points for additional help.

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Hybrid Pallet Labeling

The PTI Hybrid Pallet Label offers an interim solution to traceable pallet labeling if you or your trading partners aren't yet ready for GS1 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) pallet labels. This session will cover best practices for creating and placing your pallet labels, and preparing your customers to receive them. You will take away the tools and information needed to successfully execute Hybrid Pallet Labels in your operation.

Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Produce Brokers

This session will focus on best practice recommendations to help develop and maintain efficient shipping, receiving and communication processes for buy and sell arrangements involving produce brokers. Multiple scenarios of shipments of orders to customers will be discussed.

Useful Resources

E-learning Course: Traceability in the Fresh Produce Industry

Designed to assist the produce industry to learn how to implement traceability processes for their businesses, this e-Learning module is available to help improve supply chain efficiencies from the field to the consumer and ensure that the right product gets to the right place at the right time.

Related Links

The Produce Traceability Initiative Website was designed to help the 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. The website serves as a central resource to provide industry members with extensive education, outreach and guidance on implementing traceability. 

PLU Code Experts

Ed Tracey

Ed Treacy

Vice President of Supply Chain

Wendy Logan

Wendy Logan


Supply Chain and Sustainability


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