The produce industry wants traceability, but it’s not confident a major industry initiative — at least in its current form — is the answer.


But with the government sure to stick its nose in, many in the industry are fearful they may not even have a choice in the matter.


Those are among the findings in polls taken during a March 31 Web seminar hosted by The Packer and sponsored by Fresno, Calif.-based Famous Software LLC.


Traceability: Challenges and Solutions: A Roundtable” (requires registration) was moderated by Greg Johnson, The Packer’s editor, and featured four panelists: George Nikolich, vice president of technical operations for Gerawan Farming Inc., Sanger, Calif.; Dan Sutton, vice president of perishables for Albertsons LLC, Boise, Idaho; Lisa Swenson, vice president of finance for Potandon Produce LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Pam Tann, senior manager for Sysco Corp., Houston.


During the roundtable, listeners to the Web cast were asked a series of questions about traceability. When asked whether the Produce Traceability Initiative would work, 85% said maybe, but not in its current form and with current deadlines. Eight percent said it would work, 7% said it could never work.


When asked what they think the biggest challenge facing traceability, 70% said the lack of standardization or consensus in the industry. Smaller percentages expressed reservations about its cost and complexity.


But the question of whether PTI or another industry-led initiative would work could be a moot one, according to polled listeners.


More than two in three — 67% — expect the government to create its own traceability program for the industry and enforce it. Twenty-eight percent said the government would let the industry establish a program, but that government would enforce its timeline.


Only 4% of those polled said the government would let the industry establish a program like PTI — one in which the industry creates its own standards and enforces the timeline.