Leadership Council agrees to enhance Produce Traceability Initiative
Acknowledging that significant progress has been made to reach the Produce Traceability Initiative goals over the last four years, the PTI Leadership Council has agreed that a buyer-centered implementation focus is needed to ensure continued industry movement toward case-level traceability.
The council, representing 32 companies in the produce industry, met recently in conjunction with the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, and decided to:
- Create a new Buyer Working Group to expedite the completion of the remaining retail/foodservice implementation steps for PTI.
- Keep the PTI governance structure intact with the Leadership Council meeting twice a year and working groups utilized as needed.
- Maintain progress of supply-side PTI implementation.
- Maintain industry education and communications via the PTI website and other channels, as needed.
Michael Agostini, senior director of produce for Walmart Stores Inc, accepted the position of Leadership Council co-chair as Cathy Green Burns resigned from this volunteer post due to increased work commitments as president of Food Lion.
"PTI is clearly better off today than it was four years ago when we started, and that is due in no small part to Cathy's leadership," Mr. Agostini said in a press release. "We should celebrate our success as we have collectively moved our industry to embrace and understand traceability with 229 members participating in our working groups developing best practice and guidance documents in support of our milestones."
Mr. Agostini is responsible for the merchandising of key produce categories at Walmart's U.S. Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, which currently total more than 3,000 retail stores nationwide. He also leads Wal-Mart's produce technology efforts, which seek to leverage technical solutions to create innovative processes for Walmart's produce supply chain.
A veteran with more than 39 years experience in the produce and grocery industries, Mr. Agostini has recently served on the PMA board of directors and as chairman of the PMA Supply Chain Efficiencies Committee.
"The PTI milestones have been effective in guiding the industry step-by-step toward improved traceability and food safety," Doug Grant, co-chair of the Leadership Council and senior vice president and chief operations officer of The Oppenheimer Group, added in the press release. "Moving forward, we need to support the new Buyer Working Group so industry members can effectively identify the best strategies to keep the momentum going for the PTI we have built over the last four years."
Mr. Grant joined The Oppenheimer Group in 1995 as director of information technology and has spearheaded the implementation of state-of-the-art IT systems, keeping the company at the digital forefront of the produce industry. He has since taken on executive responsibility for information technology, operations, quality control, manufacturing, transportation, supply chain management, marketing, grower relations, and food safety, while having oversight responsibility for the Santiago, Chile office.