Produce sector urged to adopt supply chain coding standard

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Barcode

A commonly used global identification standard would improve
logistics and should be adopted by the produce sector, according to
a food industry association.

In a recent case study the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) tested the standard using the global trade item number (GTIN) along the supply chain. The PMA recommends that the fruit and vegetables sector adopt the use of GTIN as a means of automating traceability and to cut costs.

The use of the coding system, which can be used to identify batches of products or individual items, would push processors to adopt GTIN.

According to the association, the fruit and vegetable sector has lagged behind other food industry segments in adopting supply chain technology and automation to assist in tracking and tracing their products.

Current industry practices are "laborious, error-prone, and confusing" as non-standard proprietary numbers are used.

"Simply put, the produce industry cannot effectively participate in supply chain technologies such as electronic commerce, barcoding, reduced space symbology (RSS), radio frequency identification (RFID), and data synchronization without adopting the GTIN,"​ the PMA report stated.

GTIN is a globally recognized protocol for assigning items numbers. It is used in at least 26 different industries in about 100 countries.

The code, which forms part of the data that can be held by RFID tags, can provide an accurate, efficient, and cheap means for controlling the flow of product and data using an all-numeric 14-digit identification system.

GTIN is not a single number to be used by companies, but a standard protocol, which if followed correctly, allows suppliers to identify and buyers to track products.

Under the standard each individual product is given a unique GTIN.

Once companies store GTIN numbers on their systems, automatic data capture, such as scanning for RFID or barcodes, will reveal the all the information the 14-digit code represents.

According to the PMA the grocery retail community has already adopted the technology in its packaged goods segment and is looking to producers and manufacturers to follow suit.

The Produce Marketing Association is a not-for-profit global trade association with about 2,100 members involved in the production, distribution, retail, and foodservice of fresh fruits, vegetables, and related products.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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