(March 24, 11 a.m.) This year promises to be a watershed year for traceability, and TraceGains Inc. intends to play a big role.

To get the word out, not only about itself but also about traceability in general, the Longmont, Colo.-based company hosted a Web seminar, “Easily Meet All Retailer Labeling Requirements,” March 18.

Speaking during the 45-minute presentation were TraceGains officers and Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.

The keys to successful traceability, said Marc Simony, TraceGains’ director of marketing, include providing unique labels on all cartons, tailored to an individual retailer’s needs, and making sure your program reaches in both directions along the supply chain.

“You can’t pre-print 1,000 labels. Different companies have different qualifications,” he said. “And tracing back isn’t good enough. It’s not even the half of it. You need to be able to trace forward, to see where product is being shipped.”

Shippers also need a system that can effectively navigate the more than 20 global traceability standards and 450 data elements used on labels, Simony said.

Getting up to speed couldn’t be more urgent, as more and more retailers are requiring their suppliers to meet demanding new standards, Simony said.

Sam’s Club, for instance, is set to institute case-level mandates June 1. The retailer will require suppliers to ship product with labels indicating field location, what chemicals were used in production and the dates the commodity was planted, harvested, processed and shipped to Sam’s Club.

TraceGains, Simony said, has a track record of getting its clients up to speed fast.

One customer, a shipper of both tomatoes and peppers, was hit hard by the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreaks of 2008.

But after switching to the TraceGains system in December, the company was able to print unique, tailored case-level labels within a week, Simony said.

The company doubled its business with its largest customer, saw an 83% boost in all sales and realized a full return on its investment in six weeks, Simony said.

In his presentation during the seminar, Vache gave a preview of the United Fresh Produce Association’s traceability offerings at the association’s upcoming convention, set for April 21-24 in Las Vegas.

United Fresh will host a workshop, “Traceback 2012: Getting from Here to There.” In addition, space will be set aside on the show floor for United Fresh’s 8,000-square-foot Traceback Demonstration Center.

United’s big push on the issue this year, Vache said, is driven largely by the seven industry milestones on traceability set by the Produce Traceability Initiative, a joint effort of United Fresh; the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association; and the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association.