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Coastline Produce, based in Salinas, CA, and RedLine Solutions announced the successful launch of a pilot project this summer to enable Produce Traceability Initiative compliance across Coastline's product line.

The driver for PTI compliance at Coastline is to assure Coastline's current and future customers -- and ultimately consumers -- of the safety and wholesomeness of their food supply.

"Coastline takes its responsibilities for food safety very seriously," Ralph Treadway, food-safety coordinator for Coastline, said in a July 20 press release. "Our approach to PTI is to be compliant as soon as practical. We are piloting in 2009 to ensure smooth compliance in 2010."

One of the key reasons for piloting this summer is the scale and complexity of Coastline's operations. Coastline offers its customers more than 25 different commodities, grown in five districts and packed into over a 1,000 SKUs. This variety, plus production volume of tens of thousands of cases each day, requires a solution that can operate in multiple locations, in remote areas without network connectivity and in harsh field conditions.

The pilot project is a coordinated effort between Coastline and RedLine Solutions, building on Coastline's knowledge of growing, harvesting and shipping processes and on RedLine's long experience providing data capture and traceability solutions for fresh produce companies.

"It is widely acknowledged in the industry that achieving PTI compliance is going to be complex and difficult, which is why it encounters so much resistance in some places," Chris Davis, chief operating officer of Santa Clara, CA-based RedLine Solutions, added in the press release. "Building the new capability will require much more than just software or labels. It requires changes to your processes and training for your people even more than it requires deploying the right set of tools. The value of working with Coastline on this pilot is that everyone we work with, from the executives to the team members in the field, understands the importance of the project to their company and is excited to contribute their knowledge."

Phil Adrian, vice president at Coastline, added in the press release, "RedLine is the only solution provider we have encountered that has expertise in all the required technologies as well as deep experience in fresh produce."

The pilot solution provided by RedLine allows Coastline to generate PTI case labels based on its weekly and daily harvest planning. These labels can be generated in the office, directly in the field, or in some special cases, at the cooler. This flexibility allows Coastline's operations team to adjust in real time to changes in field conditions or the market. It is also a flexible system that can grow quickly and flexibly as Coastline continues to expand its range and volume of products to meet ever-changing market demands.

As labels are placed on cartons by the harvest crew, information is captured into an electronic record, building in traceability right at the point of harvest. A side benefit of this approach is that the electronic information about the packed product is continually available to both the operations and sales teams while the product is in the field, en route to the cooler, and moving through the precooling and shipping processes. This may provide opportunities to improve cycle time and respond more rapidly to changing conditions.

The pilot project is designed in three phases. In each phase, additional harvest methods and/or commodities will be added and new system capabilities will be introduced.