(Nov. 18) NEWARK, Del. — The Produce Marketing Association is one step closer to making its Industry Product Database a reality. But for that step to happen, it will need some help from the industry.

The database, which was approved by the PMA board of directors on Oct. 17 in Orlando, Fla., was created by PMA’s e-commerce committee to get buyers and sellers to synchronize their various product codes and definitions for each commodity. The idea is that the database will contain a list of produce items and a series of attributes for those items.

Using the database, buyers and sellers will be able to work more easily with other buyers and sellers who may have different product codes for the same item.

The database will basically save buyers the time and trouble of matching up their product codes with the various product codes used by different sellers, in essence giving the industry a single language for conducting business electronically.

Gary Fleming, vice president of technology and industry standards for the association, said the next step will be the formation of three committees, which will be comprised of industry representatives.

“We’re hoping to enlist people to participate in those committees,” he said. “People can contact me if they want to get involved.”

The first will be the IPD Advisory Board, which Fleming said will most likely be comprised of the existing Industry Product Database task force. Fleming said the board will oversee the database and work on the marketing of the service.

The Product Attributes Committee will verify that the current list of attributes in the database is sufficient.

“They will be creating the values within each attribute,” Fleming said. “They will look at things like ‘What does small mean?’ and ‘What does the Northwest growing region mean?’ They will create a standards list for each attribute.”

The third committee will focus on interoperability protocols. In other words, Fleming said, it will help create the messages that will carry the data in and out of the services that will ultimately fill the data pool.

Once the committees are assembled, Fleming hopes to begin having conference call meetings with everyone involved before the holidays. Face-to-face meetings will begin in January.

Fleming said the ultimate goal is to have the database ready for the industry by April.

For more information or to participate on a committee, contact Fleming at (302) 738-7100. Or visit www.pma.com/standardization.