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Jack Gyben, vice president of marketing and co-owner of Los Angeles-based Progressive Produce was a guest speaker panelist at the Produce Marketing Association Traceability Symposium held in Cerritos, CA, in October, according to a company press release.

The release stated that Mr. Gyben began with a short history of the company, which has been in business for 43 years. In 2003 owners Jim Leimkuhler, Victor Rodarte and Mr. Gyben purchased the company from Chiquita and at that time decided to expand into other commodities. Since that time, Mr. Gyben said, there have been two significant changes that have taken place in the industry — technology and communication.

Food safety is serious business at Progressive Produce, according to the press release. Mr. Gyben commented on how proud the firm's principals are of scoring a "Superior" rating from Primus Labs at all four company facilities.

He went on to say that Progressive is true to its name and on the fast track to implementing the Produce Traceability Initiative on its original timetable by creating GTINs (case-level traceability), working with enterprise resource planning systems to generate labels and store trace data and evaluating the best ways to equip its packers to be compliant by the target date. Progressive is committed to be responsible to the industry, the consumer and their company and employees, the release said.

While all the panelists covered the supply side of traceability, Mr. Gyben also shared Progressive’s program of item-level traceability, and its implications for consumer feedback. The “HarvestMark” label allows the consumer to trace back the item to the field where it was grown and provides other consumer- friendly information. For the supplier, the label traces back to packingline, pack date and inbound lot number, and identifies the date and location of trace events for marketing purposes.

Progressive won the 2009 PMA Impact Award for Packaging on its “HarvestMark Yam.” Since that time Progressive has expanded this labeling to include other branded and private-label items, the release said.

Looking forward, Mr. Gyben said in the release, “Traceability provides us new insights and ways to engage our customers. Implementing traceability signals we are transparent and 'progressive’ working together with our retail partners to make a difference in the marketplace.”