Starting in 2020, new generic Universal Product Codes will not be issued for produce in the U.S. and Canada, with company-specific codes taking their place.
The Produce Marketing Association and Canadian Produce Marketing Associationannounced the change Nov. 13, “at the direction and influence of the industry,” according to a news release. That includes PMA’s Produce ID Committee and the Romaine Task Force, whose recent report on an E. coli outbreak supports the elimination of the generic UPCs.
The industry has been shifting away from the generic codes for numerous reasons, including better category management data, enhanced traceability and a more accurate inventory for retailers and suppliers.
Using the owner specific UPCs — or Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) which companies have been adopting as a UPC alternative — also enhances food safety by speeding up the recall process, according to the CPMA/PMA news release.
“There are a variety of benefits for retailers when our suppliers convert from generic UPCs to company-specific UPCs,“ Harlan Ewert, produce commodity coordinator at The Kroger Co., said in the release. “Company-specific UPCs provide us with better data to make meaningful decisions in our business. For example, they enable retailers to differentiate between brands of products in the same category and determine sell-through and shrink data by brand.”
Floral products are not included in the policy change, and current generic UPCs for fresh produce will not be affected.
The Produce Electronic Identification Board created the generic codes in 1990 to help capture and store data across multiple categories and companies, making checkout more accurate for retailers, Ed Treacy, PMA’s vice president of supply chain and sustainability, said in the release.
““Over time, the costs and capabilities of data tracking and storage have changed,” he said in the release. “Sunsetting the issuance of generic UPCs is one more way to empower our industry to do more with data.”
The produce associations recommend that companies consider the change when ordering packaging, and that retailers do the same when making category management decisions or ordering product.
(read more) Source: thepacker.com