What makes this industry so compelling is its diversity, and that's also the reason that "leading" the industry can be akin to herding cats. Yet the Produce Traceability Initiative has laid out an ambitious timeline for voluntary industry adoption of GS1 for GTIN case level coding by 2012. How is the industry doing with the initiative?

I had a chance to visit with GS1 folks yesterday who were very helpful to me about their interaction with the produce industry, though they offered no hard data on the number of firms who have begun the process as of right now.

I recently asked the Fresh Produce Discussion Group at linkedin.com to respond to these questions:

 Are marketers surprised by the cost of acquiring GTIN numbers? Do you think that will be a barrier to the industry meeting the PTI timeline? Do industry members feel that
investment in other traceability solutions replaces the need for GS1?

Here are excerpts from the discussion:(Join the FPIDG to benefit from the full remarks)

One member said:

The costs associated with the implementation of the GS1 standards is a well kept secret. Not necessarily intentional however. There are 4 elements that need to be addressed and all of them have a cost associated with them. First is the cost of the numbers themselves. That is dependent upon internal factors for each company, dollar volume and the amount of numbers needed primarily. One company told me they paid ......

Another noted:

Speed and accuracy in traceability is required to limit a company's exposure and the exposure to the entire industry. Guilt by association is the largest expense to an industry. Ask PCA customers and the peanut industry in total, how well peanuts have fared lately.

I'm doing some additional reporting today on the issue and I would love to hear your remarks to these questions:

What’s the argument for getting involved now rather than waiting until later – perhaps after Congress passes a food safety reform law?

What is the typical cost for implementation of the system? How are the costs calculated? Do you think cost is the biggest objection so far?

Is the GS1 system seen as the preferred method throughout the North American food industry?

Is there any  reluctance to embrace the system because it is not mandated by law yet?

By 2012 or so, do you think retailers will making buying decisions based GS1/GTIN implementation? If so, to what degree?