Produce Traceability Initiative

Three years ago, we published an article titled “Traceability Will Be Key Differentiator” in Food Logistics magazine. We began the article with this assertion: “Within five years, the ability to track, trace and recall products throughout the supply chain will differentiate CPG companies that expand their business from those that close their doors.”

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) represents a potential industry-wide breakthrough for CPG traceability. With its vision of “supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability for every case of produce by the year 2012,” PTI will offer CPG enterprises the opportunity to not only increase food safety and avoid recalls, but also optimize internal operations to increase efficiency and profitability.

While state-of-the-art ERP solutions like SAP Business All-in-One it.cpg will help companies fulfill each point on the PTI “Action Plan” (creation of GTIN numbers; encoding information on barcodes; etc.), technology is not a magic bullet. The true value of PTI will be seen in how it prompts companies to examine their internal policies, procedures and practices.

Track-and-trace technology is nothing in and of itself. Companies must have solid internal reporting practices and overall strategies already in place in order to capitalize on sophisticated software. Even a world-class tool like SAP-powered it.cpg depends on trained users inputting clean information. Thus, prior to adopting a software solution, companies must undergo change management by reviewing—and when necessary, revising—policies, procedures and practices around traceability.

The need for change management will come as unwelcome news to those who regard ERP solutions like SAP as a magic bullet. However, as PTI will make abundantly clear, traceability and change management are inextricably linked. Companies willing to briefly endure short-term pain points regarding cost, time and changed status quo will gain comprehensive supply-chain vision, and flourish as a result.

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