Apr 13, 2021
Fruit and vegetables supply chain by data standardization addressed

The International Federation for Produce Standards, representing produce associations from around the globe, wants to improve the supply chain efficiency of the fresh produce industry through developing, implementing and managing harmonized international data standards.

“Sustainability and food safety are focus areas of our organization in standardizing the increasing data driven demands,” Rebecca Lee, IFPS chair said in a news release.

To mark the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) is exploring how to ensure that fruits and vegetables are well represented throughout the discussions leading up to and during the UN Global Food Systems Summit, to be held in September or October. “We seek collaboration with like-minded organizations to amplify the effect of any initiatives the IFPS member organizations and our respective members undertake as part of efforts around the International Year,” Lee said.

Initially, and on a continuous basis, improving the increasingly data driven supply chain of fruits and vegetables includes the globalization of multiple Price Look Up (PLU) schemes into one global list for which we assign new numbers and generally manage to support Point-of-Sale accuracy in many countries around the globe. Every grower/packer who ships to North America, New Zealand, Australia and various points in Europe will uses these numbers as product identification on loose produce.

In the realm of food safety particularly, IFPS members have become increasingly concerned about the impact on farmers of the requirements included in the latest revision of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). As the global industry organization for produce standards, and reflecting our concern with ensuring that the movement of global supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables is enabled, not stymied, IFPS seeks consideration of the challenges these recent changes have created and ask for a seat at the table for primary agriculture.

“In our vision a sustainable future is one where people are eating more fruits and vegetables,” Lee said. “The fresh produce sector ensures the accessibility of healthy and sustainable food all over the world. It has relatively low environmental impact and contains high nutritional value for a healthy world,” Lee said. “Based upon the experiences last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fresh products were lost due to businesses shutting down and slowing transportation systems. It is therefore critically important to improve the global food system both in support of farmers and the fruit and vegetable supply chain, and to support food security through a consistent and dependable global supply chain. We all need to recognize the importance of local, national and global food supplies and food security in the face of the challenges of the past year.”

International standardization of product data is foundational in securing and a safe, healthy and sustainable future for fruits and vegetables this year and as we move beyond the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

IFPS efforts to ensure that the right product arrives at the right place at the right time by global product identification, includes both standard setting in cooperation with global standards bodies and establishment and management of the global IFPS Price Look Up (PLU) codes for fresh produce sold to consumers loose/in bulk. The process of international standardization in the field of sustainability is only at the beginning of its development and therefore requires our continued attention.

More information about IFPS, the members and the board of directors is available here.

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