In the food industry, there has been much discussion over the push for produce traceability. The ability to track food more efficiently will give food companies an improved capability for tracking down shipments that are contaminated or need to be recalled for other reasons. However, in an economy that is still recovering, many organizations are wondering how to maximize produce traceability effectiveness without a significant cost.
What Will Be Required For Produce Traceability
The produce traceability initiative, or PTI, outlines seven milestones to implementation that will help companies understand with certainty whether or not they have been able to successfully make their produce traceable. Most of these milestones involve assigning unique codes to shipments to make sure that both computers and people can read them and track them sufficiently. So far, many major players in the food industry are announcing compliance with the PTI: Whole Foods Market and Walmart have both already announced compliance dates.
Preliminary Concerns Over PTI Costs
Some organizations in the industry are concerned about PTI costs associated with new technology that is required to maintain sufficient traceability. The PTI’s website states that most companies should already have the ability to track much of the information that the initiative wants companies to manage, which means that costs should be at a minimum. To determine the actual costs of produce traceability, the PTI started conducting studies in 2011 that were held to determine how companies could implement the milestones of the initiative to improve produce traceability effectiveness without elevated costs.
These studies revealed important information about the costs of the PTI: namely, that they were often lower because of the improved ROI involved in using technology promoted by the PTI, such as an Advance Ship Notice (ASN). For example, The Oppenheimer Group, a major distributor of produce from markets including Canada and South America, found that the use of ASNs lead to greater savings. Steve Roosdahl, director of supply chain management for Oppenheimer, said that while using an ASN involves some startup costs, it generates savings over time because it minimizes the potential for data loss that could lead to more manpower required for traceability. Roosdahl also pointed out that the use of better traceability technology offers significant operational benefits for organizations at all stages of the produce chain.
The Key For Produce Traceability At Low Costs
If you are in the food industry and have already considered information about produce traceability effectiveness, you might be wondering what steps you can take to reach the milestones at the lowest possible price to your organization.
One of the more important factors for cost reduction in meeting the produce traceability initiative is the type of tracking system and provider you use. Because of the buzz about PTI over the past few years, technology companies focusing on the agricultural industry have developed several kinds of low cost tracking solutions for implementing PTI milestones. Ultimately, if you are able to find a quality provider of traceability solutions, you can be compliant with the seven milestones without significant costs and simultaneously gain a boost to operational efficiency.