A global produce standards body has launched a new initiative to harmonise Price Look Up codes as well as international data on food safety and sustainability.
The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS), which represents produce associations around the globe, wants to improve supply chain efficiency by developing, implementing and managing harmonised data across different countries.
"Sustainability and food safety are focus areas of our organisation in standardising the increasing data-driven demands," said IFPS chair Rebecca Lee said.
To mark the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, IFPS wants to ensure fruits and vegetables are well represented in discussions leading up to and during the UN Global Food Systems Summit, to be held in September or October 2021.
Among other objectives, the body wants to harmonise Price Look Up (PLU) schemes (for produce sold loose or in bulk) into one global list that is centrally managed to help ensure point-of-sale accuracy in multiple countries.
Every grower and packer who ships to North America, New Zealand, Australia and various countries in Europe uses these numbers as product identification on loose produce.
IFPS said its members have become “increasingly concerned” about the impact on farmers of the food safety requirements included in the latest version of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
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.
“We are concerned about how to improve the global food system. We all need to recognise the importance of farmers and the whole fruits and vegetables supply chain in keeping the global and local food supplies and food security in the face of the challenges of the past year."
IFPS said the international standardisation of all the product data in the fruit and vegetable supply chain “is key in having a food-safe, healthy and sustainable future”.
When it comes to sustainability, the federation said the process of international standardisation is “only at the beginning of its development and therefore requires our continued attention”.