If suppliers feel buyers need to do more to meet the goals of the Produce Traceability Initiative, the numbers back them up.

More than eight out of ten fresh produce suppliers say they are communicating Global Trade Item Numbers to receivers while just four out of ten receivers report storing data on inbound cases, according to a new survey measuring industry adoption of the seven Produce Traceability Initiative milestones, according to a news release from the sponsors of the Produce Traceability Initiative.

PTI, which began in 2008 as a voluntary effort by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 US, Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association, seeks supply chainwide adoption of electronic traceability of produce cases by the end of the year.

The online survey, which began in mid-March and ended April 5, was completed by 228 companies representing all produce industry sectors, according to the release. About 23% of survey respondents were buyers (distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, and wholesale or terminal markets) while suppliers accounted for 77% of responses.

According to a news release, survey results showed:

  • 84% of suppliers who responded to the survey said are communicating GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to receivers, while 77% of all brand owners said that they have assigned GTINs to some or all of their produce cases;
  • 88% of receivers report they are receiving cases with incoming GTINs, and 75% of receivers report they are reading or planning on reading data on some or all inbound cases;
  • 43% of receivers said they are fully or partially equipped for reading inbound PTI data, and 40% of receivers said they are storing all or some data on inbound cases; and
  • 7% of brand owners saying they do not plan to meet the entry-level milestones.

“We are very pleased with the results from the survey,” Cathy Green Burns, co-chairwoman of the PTI Leadership Council and president of Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion, said in the release. “We’ve made great progress with this initiative, especially among suppliers who are leading the way with traceability implementation. Based on the survey results, we plan to redouble our efforts to engage buyers to complete our vision of whole-chain traceability.”

Co-chairman Doug Grant, senior vice president and chief operations officer of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group, said in the release that the survey results show in real terms how far the PTI has come.

Survey respondents also said they want PTI administering groups to continue to provide education and communication on traceability issues, even after deadlines expire at the end of this year, according to the release.