Representatives of more than 30 companies from a broad cross section of the produce supply chain including retailers, foodservice buyers and produce suppliers have been appointed to serve on the steering committee of the Produce Traceability Initiative, an industry-led effort to enhance traceability throughout the supply chain. The initiative’s sponsor associations also announced today that the steering committee will be chaired by Cathy Green, chief operating officer of Food Lion, LLC.

The initiative was launched in October by Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA), and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh).

The three trade associations came together earlier this year when the boards of directors of each organization recognized the need for greater progress in implementing a consistent whole-chain traceability solution. The steering committee will develop an action plan to help the industry meet this challenge, which may include promotion of industrywide traceability best practices, establishing timelines and goals for adoption, and a creating a validation process for accountability.

“It is evident that we must help drive a more comprehensive industrywide commitment to trace back and trace forward systems that can be used throughout the produce supply chain,” said Green. “A preventative food safety system begins with a sound, whole-chain traceability system that allows us to rapidly trace product movement up and down the supply chain. By working together to create meaningful action steps implementing greater traceability, we can both protect our consumers and our businesses.”

Participating companies currently confirmed to serve on the steering committee include:

- seven foodservice buyers: Amerifresh, Applebee’s International, Markon Cooperative Inc., McDonald’s, Pro*Act, Sysco Corporation, U.S. Foodservice;

- nine retail buyers: Food Lion, H-E-B, W. Newell & Co. (Supervalu), The Kroger Co., Loblaws, Safeway Stores Inc., Schnuck Markets Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wegmans Food Markets; and

- 17 produce suppliers: AEPQ (Quebec Apple Packers), B.C. Tree Fruits Limited, Ballantine Produce Co. Inc., C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Dole Food Company Inc., Domex Superfresh Growers, Driscoll’s, Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., Fresh Express Inc., Fresh Innovations, LLC., Frontera Produce, Ltd., Naturipe Farms, LLC., The Oppenheimer Group, Pandol Brothers Inc., Ready Pac Produce, River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC., and Tanimura & Antle.

The initiative’s sponsoring organizations have also invited other stakeholder associations representing key business segments of the North American food industry to participate, including Food Marketing Institute, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, Canadian Horticultural Council, International Foodservice Distributors Association, and National Restaurant Association.

The first meeting of the steering committee will be held Jan. 9, 2008, in Atlanta, Ga. The Perishables Group will act as the facilitator for the group’s meeting.

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

Founded in 1949, the Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association serving more than 2,100 companies representing every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. Members rely on PMA year round for the business solutions they need to increase sales and consumption, build strong professional relationships, and expand their business opportunities. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

About Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is a not-for-profit association committed to increasing the market for fresh fruit and vegetables in Canada, by encouraging cooperation and information exchange among all segments, in both the domestic and international arenas of the produce industry. The CPMA represents and serves a vertically integrated membership involving all levels of the produce supply chain from the grower/packer/shipper to retail and foodservice.

About United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh)

United Fresh Produce Association is a leading industry trade association committed to driving the growth and success of produce companies and their partners. United Fresh represents the interests of member companies throughout the global, fresh produce supply chain, including family-owned, private and publicly traded businesses as well as regional, national and international companies. The association was founded in 1904 to represent the produce industry, and recently took the name United Fresh as a result of the 2006 merger of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association.